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The wedding party assembles for a few pre-matrimonial snapshots.
“Say Wisconsin!” says one photographer. Everyone smiles. The followup: “Say Lebanese!”
“Taverna!” replies bride Rima Karim.
The geographical references reflect the bride and groom, respectively. Mike Neal, 37, is a native of Fond du Lac, and Karim, 39, grew up locally to a big Middle Eastern family.
This wedding is some 13 years in the making. They met in 1995 at Crow Bar, the late lamented West End biker saloon. “I invited him to be in my book club,” Karim remembers. She can’t recall that first book, “but we did read Geek Love,” she says. The title of the freak-show novel by Katherine Dunn, in fact, is now the name of their wireless Internet connection.
They’d been talking marriage for a few weeks, Neal says, then got officially engaged on Saturday. Monday morning, they got a wedding appointment. Gotta start “planning for our financial future,” he says. “We wanted to start off on the right foot.”
Four friends came with the couple today, including members of the “Q Street Crew”—-folks who lived with them in a Dupont group house.
Why the courthouse? Neal says “there’s a hundred different reasons.” Karim says it’s simple: “The party’s the important part. Save the money for the booze.”
In fact, she says, there may be four parties in all: One with her family, one with his family in the Midwest, and a couple with friends. And the Midwest sojourn, she warns Neal, ain’t gonna cut it for a honeymoon: “I want a real honeymoon. I want to completely unplug.”
For now, it’s lunch, then dinner tonight at Karim’s parents’ house in Vienna. The low-key affair extends to the wardrobe: She’s wearing a “crazy, gypsy, sequined outfit” she found in her sister’s closet. She bought a $10 shirt to complete the ensemble.
As for Neal, who is wearing khakis and a white short-sleeved shirt: “She told me what to wear.”