Kari + Ben | Engaged… now Wedding Day!

Today, Kari and Ben walk down the aisle to say their “I DOs” to one another after 4 years of living life and getting to know one another.


In October of 2008, Kari and Ben were introduced to one another through Kari’s coworker and his wife.

Ben came down planning to hang out with friends and then meeting Kari the second night he was in town. While spending time at his friend’s house, who is also Kari’s coworker, Ben’s friend brought Kari over to his house to meet Ben. Ben did not expect this to happen his first night of being in town.

“I was enjoying a Leinie’s been when she walked through the door and I almost dropped it on the floor because I didn’t know she was coming over yet and she was really good looking”, said Ben.



Kari and Ben had plans to go bowling with their friends for their first night of meeting one another. As the night wore down after bowling, they went back to their friends house where it was time for Kari to head home. The weather was a bit chilly and windy and Ben walked Kari to her car.

Ben share I told her that I liked her and would like to get her number. “To my surprise, she gave it to me”, Ben said. Then came the hug. Ben said, “I figured I was doing pretty damn well for a ‘first date’ and then decided a good bye hug was in order. As I began to approach and hugged, and hugged, and hugged, she timidly hugged back. Then she did not let go for at least two full minutes.”

Ben and Kari planned a date night of carving pumpkins together. Kari said she likes all things looking nice where as Ben, he just started carving his pumpkin while Kari followed a template on hers.

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When Kari was asked when she knew Ben was the one, she stated, ” I’m not sure if there was a specific time when I knew he was the one. We do have a lot of things in common and share a lot of interests, so that didn’t hurt. The first time I met him I did not think that he was the one. We had many long phone conversations and at that point I had a pay as you go phone and was burning through my minutes like crazy, so I decided to get a real cell phone plan. Through the long phone conversations we got to know each other pretty well. I became more comfortable with him and we grew closer.”

Ben shared, “I guess I knew she was the one when I put it together in my head that we had so much in common I would probably never meet another one like her. Our quirks complimented each other so well that I just kind of knew.  I cannot give you an exact date on this but it was definitely before we had been dating for a full year. ”

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As they continued to talk and grow together, many lengthy phone conversations, Ben’s friends were questioning him of when he will be marrying Kari.


When we first met with Kari and Ben, we always like to hear the story of how they met, and the proposal. This is what Ben shared with us about the proposal.

“Well, enter John Van Toll once again, my buddy.  Kari and I had been dating for about 3 years and John said “geez, when are you going to marry that girl? You’d better do it before someone else does.” I said “I don’t know, this year I suppose.” John then gave me his backup ring he’d gotten for his wife and said “ take this and propose to her.” I took the ring and thought  “Hey, that was easy, now all I have to do is propose.”

Well, that’s easier said than done, but time wore on…too much time. John kept urging me to propose and I finally began planning.  I thought I‘d better make a good production out of this since I waited almost a year since I got this plain jane ring.  First I bought the candles, blue ones since that was her favorite color and eight of them, her favorite number.  I bought as many different hazelnut chocolate bars as I could, also her favorite.  I bought a bottle of moscato wine with a butterfly on it since she loves that kind of wine and anything with insects is always a plus.  I had the ring and I also had my laptop with her favorite song on it, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”  I dressed in a nice shirt that she liked and underneath that I was wearing that Monty Python shirt, from the first date. I also bought a dozen roses when I got up to Eau Claire that evening.


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It was January 18, 2013.  I had told my boss at the time I needed Friday, Saturday and Sunday off to propose to my girlfriend.  Jim promptly smiled, shook my hand and said “Go get ‘er”.  I left early from work that Friday and drove the 4 hours to Eau Claire.  When I was by Abbotsford I called her (she was in Madison at the time) and said I was just leaving work.  I arrived at her parents’ house and parked my car in the garage…I never did that and I hid my backpack and put my shoes in the closet…I had always left them out.  I decided it was time to ask Larry permission to marry his only daughter.  I asked him and he said “you two are getting married?” I said “Well, I hope so.” I tried to set up all the things I had brought in the guest room.  I found a vase for the flowers, and a bowl of ice for the wine… that was the easy part. I needed the wireless internet for the song on Youtube and Larry and I spent a bunch of time trying to set that up.  I set up the candles, the chocolate, flowers, and wine.  All seemed to be going well but then I decided to test things.  The main concern was the internet, the router was down the basement and behind a block wall just getting out of range for the room I was in.  I got about 45 seconds into the song and the internet crashed…”Dammit” I thought. I decided to get glasses for the wine and this is the one thing I really did right.  I happened to pick a pair of nice crystal glasses that were quite fancy.  I then decided to try lighting the candles; I got two lit before the lighter died.  I thought “no big deal, I know they have a box of matchbooks.” No they did not, Kari’s mom had used up the last one earlier that week.  After rummaging through many drawers and saying a few choice words I finally found a book with about 3 matches in it.  I then tried to look for a corkscrew. I couldn’t find that orange one I’d seen 100 times, I settled on a metal one that had a hinged corkscrew, it was jammed in there, I couldn’t get it to swing out.  After more choice words and a Leatherman I gave up and asked Larry if he could fix it.  I then turned my attention back to the computer with little internet signal and figured I’d load the song in the dining room and take it ten feet into the guest room when she arrived.  That computer has a battery life of about 5-10 minutes so I knew I had to plug it in when I moved it.  This was turning out to be way more stressful than I had planned.  I figured I’d better check on Kari and see where she was.  Her answer was “I don’t know” and how ever I asked the question the answer remained the same. I had no idea where she was or when she left or what town she was near…I was beginning to become frustrated and a little desperate.  I turned to John again and told him to get the approximate time she would arrive with whatever excuse he wanted to come up with to obtain that information. I decided that it was time for alcohol because pacing back and forth was just not working.  I opened the liquor cabinet and the first thing I saw was Everclear. I thought the better of it and chose Jagermeister instead.  After two shots I calmed down a bit.  I had everything set up and changed into my nice clothes.  All I had to do was wait.  I received a text message from John, saying 30-45 minutes.  Those were some of the longest 45 minutes of my life.  I was downstairs trying to help Larry fix a gun but kept looking at my phone every 30 seconds.  I finally couldn’t stand it and went upstairs and lit the candles with the original lighter, it worked. I took one last look in the drawer for the orange corkscrew; I found it in 5 seconds. I finally heard her car pull into the driveway. I ran and grabbed the computer and plug and ran into the guest room almost falling on my face.  I didn’t remember to plug the computer in but I did continually check my pulse.  I had the lights off and the door cracked with candles burning and a ring in my hand.  She finally entered the room and I turned around and hit play. Journey began to play and I dropped to a knee and opened the ring box.  I was so damn nervous that when I said “Kari Ann Gullickson, will you marry me?” it sounded as if a police officer was saying “STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE” in a very authoritarian tone.  My first thought was “Crap, that didn’t sound good at all.” She was surprised with the room full of candles and the dumb tone of my voice, but she came over hugged me and whispered “yes’ into my ear.  The rest is, as they say, history.”

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We love to hear about the proposals as we continue to tell the story throughout the wedding day and with pictures from the special day.


Today these two continue their journey together as they unite as one. Congratulations to the both of you!

We are honored to be a part of your wedding day in Eau Claire with your family and friends at your side.