Friendship Turns to Love
by LINDA MARGISON
photography by LAURA VON PHOTOGRAPHY
Indiana University has been a big part of Ali Linnemeier and JR Ricker’s lives—she was on the RedStepper Dance Team and he was on the track team.
“For four years, I ran around the track while she practiced in the center,” JR says. “I probably ran around her a thousand times.” But the two didn’t meet until graduation week in 2015. “We became just friends for a few years after that,” Ali says. “We started as friends and went from there.”
Because of her expertise working in communications and development at the IU Varsity Club, Ali, 26, helped JR, 28, create a website for his business, inBloom Juicery. Then, one day, JR texted to see if Ali wanted to go on a hike at Griffy Lake. “That was probably when we started hanging out as more than friends, doing stuff together that was less casual and more intentional,” Ali says.
It took a while for things to move out of the friend zone—more so for JR than for Ali. “I was quicker in getting serious,” Ali says. “I fell fast and hard.” About four months after that initial hike, the two had a romantic date at Oliver Winery and dinner at Malibu Grill, where JR asked Ali to be his girlfriend.
It wasn’t long before JR went to Ali’s father, Will Linnemeier, and asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage. “He said, ‘Well, what would you say if you were in my shoes?’” To which JR responded, “Hell, yeah!”
Despite her father’s feigned resistance, he and Ali’s brother, Zak Linnemeier, were an integral part of JR’s December 29, 2017, proposal. They helped decorate and light up an 80-step descent to a heart-shaped archway in the middle of a frozen lake at the family cabin in Milford, Indiana.
A ring that JR’s grandmother, Mary Virginia Krebs, received when she was 16 was customized for Ali by GoldCasters. With the stage set, JR presented the ring to Ali on the frozen lake and asked her to be his wife. When she said yes, family members and friends—about 35 people—cheered from the deck above the archway, and then joined them to celebrate.
As Ali and JR started making plans for their July 13, 2019, wedding, they decided that because IU had been so important to them, Henke Hall of Champions at Memorial Stadium would be the perfect reception venue. The ceremony was officiated by Father Bob Robeson at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. Championship Catering provided food and Upland Brewing Co. made signature drinks with juices from JR’s business.
Pomp&Bloom created flower arrangements, the cake was provided by Icing on the Cake, and photos were taken by Laura Von Photography. A special touch for IU fans included Chuck Crabb—the “Voice of Assembly Hall”—announcing the wedding party as they entered the reception.
Not long after they started dating, JR bought a house that they recently renovated. Before the rehearsal dinner, Ali’s father recruited people in town for the wedding to help unload a truckload of gravel for the driveway, to ensure the house was perfect for brunch the day after the wedding. “By the time we got married, we had gutted a house, JR had opened a business, and we had planned a wedding,” Ali says. “I feel like we can do anything now.”
The couple, who live in Bloomington, took a short honeymoon to northern Michigan following the wedding but hope to take a trip to Italy next year.