Jesse and Monica feel so honored to have friends and family standing up who have inspired and supported them in their personal, professional, and artistic endeavors.
Renee and I (Monica) met during college at UW Madison in 2004. She and I were both presidents, show coordinators, and performers with the UW Bellydance Club on campus. When I first met Renee, I trusted her immediately. Her genuine, sincere nature shows through in everything that she does. Renee and I danced together for many years - she was a member of and major administrative help with my dance troupe "El Genneyya" after college, which was my first professional project as an artist. We have enjoyed dancing together at multicultural events on campus, "bellygrams", and Renaissance Faires together! Renee and I also share a passion for youth and education, and Renee is an elementary school librarian in a small community near Madison.
When my (Monica's) brother moved to Cashton, no one could have anticipated he'd meet the woman of his dreams there! Colleen is a teacher, loves biking, and has even become a cat-lover. The Muraskis were excited to have Colleen join their family on June 15th, 2013, and I was excited to have a my first and only sister! Colleen has really added something special to our family, and I am so happy for her and my brother. Colleen even joined me in wedding dress shopping all across Madison, and the hunt continued in her hometown. Ultimately I said yes to a dress in LaCrosse, WI, at the same shop where Colleen found her dress for her own wedding day -- pretty special, right?!
Jenna and I (Monica) met in college at UW Madison in 2002 through the UW Bellydance Club. Right away, I was struck by Jenna's beauty - inside and out. Jenna is really caring, and she values others' journeys and experiences. We became friends by bellydancing together for multicultural events through the campus club and in my troupe El Genneyya. After college, Jenna pursued her masters and doctorate in Psychology in San Francisco, CA, and I am so happy that Jenna has relocated to Chicago so we can dance together again.
Katie and I (Monica) met in 2007 through the bellydance troupe Ashar Dance Company. The first time I met her, I was thoroughly impressed with her knowledge of history, games, bellydance, and geekery! As we got to know each other by dancing together for the past 6 years at nightclubs, restaurants, variety shows, and Renaissance Faires around the midwest, I have learned that she is also a "giver." She is a person who is so generous, caring, and kind that she finds ways to make people feel special and cared for. In dance, her theatrical and passionate dance style has been a major inspiration for me, and Katie has shared her deep knowledge of and skilled performance with fire as my fire-dance teacher. We continue to dance together as Vertigo Belly Dance Project, and Katie will be doing a special fire dance performance during our rehearsal.
Mike and I (Monica) met in 2005 through the UW Bellydancing Club at UW Madison. At first, I was skeptical about the legitimacy of a male bellydancer, but right away Mike showed himself to be genuine, fun-loving, and basically a feminist (how could you not be in a troupe full of strong women)! We have been dancing together ever since he encouraged me to start my own troupe and branch out professionally -- El Genneyya. Mike's belief in me as an artist and dancer has always meant so much to me. Our friendship has also been built on interest in philosophy, a love of gaming, and a mutual support of each other's artistic endeavors. Mike performs professionally as an actor, model, and dancer, and he has been an integral member of my experimental bellydance student troupe Aylin.
My brother Joel and I are very different. When we were young, he was my partner in crime, an active participant in whatever crazy imaginative scenario I had created for the day. Since those younger years, we have been close, but our lives have gone in very different directions. I don't see Joel very often, but I know I can reach out to him whenever and wherever he may be to tell him anything that is on my mind.
There was never any doubt of who I wanted to be my best man. We have not always seen eye to eye on everything, but no matter how things go, we have always been there for each other. I trust him and love him very much. I can't wait to have him by my side when I marry the woman I love.
I liked Matt from the moment I met him. He's got a great personality and loves to talk, just like me. He's not only an extremely intelligent guy, but a fantastic musician. Whenever we're together, he usually has some instrument in tow to play and will spark up a performance at the drop of a hat. I know very few people so passionate about music, and it's great to see that spark burn so brightly so often. The kids he teaches are extremely lucky.
Matt is more than a brother-in-law to me, he is my friend. I was honored to serve as a groomsmen at his wedding and was thrilled when he accepted to stand for our ceremony. Monica and Matt have a great relationship, just like my brother and I do, and I want that relationship to be front and center when our families are officially united. Thank you for standing, Matt.
Byron and I met while I was unleashing a string of profanities in an editing booth at NBC-15. He thought it was hilarious! It didn't take long for us to become friends, emerging from the trenches of the lowly production assistant unscathed... well, mostly.
Byron and I like the same stuff. We find the same things funny and can spend entire days entertaining each other without having to go anywhere. No one else I know has the patience or the desire to spend hours talking about Home Movies, the obscure Conan O'Brien clip or the evolutionary history of the 8-bit Nintendo system in the Schroeter Family basement. His laugh is contagious and, somehow, even louder than mine.
Having Byron around makes every situation better, which is why he has to stand at my wedding. You hear that, Byron, you're doing it! YOU'RE DOING IT! BYRON!!! YEAH! Love ya, man. Thank you for everything.
Nick and I met while I was working as a promotions producer and production assistant at NBC-15 in Madison. He not only expected us to be friends right away, he demanded it, so I couldn't say no even if I wanted to, which I never have.
Nick is brazen and brash. He says what he thinks and doesn't back down from anyone. From day one, I wanted this guy in my corner. No one trash talks better than him. He has the most confidence and swagger of any guy I know. But what makes Nick unique is his enormous heart. He talks a big game, but deep down, he's one of the most caring human beings I've ever met. I wish I could be one-tenth of the kind of friend to him as he has been to me.
Having him by my side at my wedding was also not an option. I'm so grateful for all the effort he has made to keep our friendship intact. Despite all of my problems and shortcomings, Nick has always been there for me, and for that, I'll be forever grateful. Thanks, bud.