After Deanna Walz proposed to David Hudson, the couple knew they wanted a nontraditional wedding.
They’d both been married before and had a standard ceremony. This time they wanted something different — a quaint backyard wedding, they thought.
But a celebration in the Beyond Vincent Van Gogh immersive art experience in Council Bluffs was never in their realm of possibilities.
At least not until they saw an advertisement for a “Win Your Wedding” competition hosted by the Omaha World-Herald.
The Greenwood couple tied the knot Wednesday evening, engulfed in the handiwork of one of history’s greatest artists. Projections of flower petals painted by Van Gogh were the backdrop as Walz and Hudson exchanged vows.
Promising to have and to hold each other in the exhibit was magical, Walz said.
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“There’s a scene in the exhibit where there are flower petals kind of swirling around,” she said. “That’s what the experience felt like — beautiful flower petals just swirling around all the time.”
In lieu of a guest book, a blank canvas was on display at the reception for each guest to add a stroke. The art piece will be displayed in their home, serving as a souvenir of the grandiose day.
Walz, 50, and Hudson, 51, were selected after submitting a video sharing their story. The artsy pair who both work for Lincoln nonprofits used their creativity to make a masterpiece.
“I like to put a little extra in,” Walz said. “He came up with the overall concept, and I did the editing. It turned out pretty cute.”
Immersive ‘Beyond Van Gogh’ art exhibit now open in Council Bluffs
The competition was sponsored by David’s Bridal, Generation Tux, Purple Orchid, Tish’s Restaurant, Britton Hacke Photography and the Sugar Makery, an Iowa shop that designed the couple’s cake to look like Van Gogh’s “Almond Branches in Bloom.”
In their video submission, the pair told the story of how they met. Their six-year relationship began with a couple right swipes and a “Star Wars” movie date.
Walz joked that she would show up in a Chewbacca costume. “Well, I’m 6-foot-4; I’ll be the one dressed as a Wookie,” Hudson said.
Neither was in costume, but they did hit it off in those red-velvet folding seats, “Rogue One” flashing on the big screen.
Walz was immediately impressed by Hudson’s passion, talent and genuine care for others.
“Dave is the kind of guy who fixes things and wants to make the world better for everybody that is in his life,” she said. “It’s that blend of everything that I’m crazy about.”
Hudson said his wife is funny, vibrant and beautiful.
“She’s extraordinary, and she loves me. And she puts up with me,” Hudson said. “We’re meant to be together, I think.”
The couple bought a house in Greenwood three years ago to serve as the halfway point between Lincoln (Walz’s home city) and Springfield (where Hudson lived). Both have teenagers and wanted to blend their lives, or in Walz’s words, “’Brady Bunch’ it.”
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Shortly after they moved, the two began to talk about marriage in casual conversation. Walz brought the subject up, and Hudson asked, “Is that a proposal?” She said “yes.”
Fast forward to the big day, and the pair were surrounded by 45 of their closest family and friends. Walz and Hudson entered from opposite sides of the room and met in the middle, where their friend performed the ceremony. Another loved one provided the music.
“It was wonderful,” Walz said. “It was intimate, but it also felt grand because of the environment.”
The unique wedding was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Walz said, truly the dream wedding she’d always hoped for.
“Standing in the immersion room with all my friends and family and watching their expressions, taking in the beauty of Van Gogh’s artwork, taking in the beauty of the digitization of everything,” she said. “Everything moved and flowed, and watching their expressions was an amazing experience.”
The Van Gogh exhibition continues through Sept. 9 at the Mid-America Center.
Photos: Immersive Van Gogh
Reach the writer at 402-473-7241 or [email protected]