A Champaign County Love Story
If you’ve lived in Champaign County for some time, you may have gotten married, or known someone who has, at Allerton Park and Retreat Center. With beautiful Formal Gardens and Natural Areas, a two-story hay barn, and a historic Mansion, every dream wedding can likely take place at this dynamic venue. Tom and Connie Hieronymus had their wedding there, and looking back on it some 47 years later, their conversation with VCC’s Taylor Bauer sure made it sound like a dream.
The two met in Farmer City, where they live now. They were in the same class in school, but they made it all the way through high school before ever going on a date. They were not strangers by any means, spending time together in plays and musicals, often in lead roles. A kiss they shared in The Sound of Music seems fateful looking back, but Tom assured his high school girlfriend at the time not to be worried after she nervously noted that “it looked like a real kiss.”
Fast forward to the couple being 19 (Tom) and 20 (Connie), and Tom’s parents are traveling with him to Monticello for a document providing permission for Tom to marry. The law at the time stated that at 18, a woman could wed, but the man must be 21. If under 21, the groom’s parents needed to sign away on the wedding. Document in hand, Connie and Tom sought next to plan on where to have the wedding, but needed very little deliberation. Allerton was the backdrop to many happy memories for them, and they would soon add their wedding to that list.
July 8, 1972 would be the day that the couple would meet in Fu Dog Garden and exchange vows. Connie’s mom made all the dresses for the bridal party, a string quartet from the University of Illinois played for the ceremony, and the reception was to be held at the gazebo. The day was one neither would soon forget, mostly because of the love they share, but also because while awaiting the start of the ceremony, Connie and her bridesmaids waited in a wooded area, and the bride to be contracted a nasty case of poison ivy. Luckily, the symptoms would not show themselves until the day after she married her soul mate.
The couple now remember the day as being a great time, and when they revisit Allerton, they’re happy to find that not much has changed. They still see the place in which they declared to the world their never ending love. Now, they take their grandkids to Allerton for picnics and 4H camp, which they attended as children just as their parents had. Allerton for many people is a place of serenity and calm, but for Tom and Connie, it’s the setting of just one chapter in a nearly 50 year story of love and what’s most important in life: the ones you share it with.
Have a story to share about your favorite place in the greater Champaign County area? Email us at email@example.com so that we can spotlight what our #OutsideofOrdinary area means to you.