In keeping with tradition, Nikki Bailey will wear white on her wedding day.
However, unlike most brides, she will have a big red 15 on her back.
Bailey and Rob Walkowiak are getting married Sunday, with their reception taking place at the same time the Kansas City Chiefs are in Miami playing the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
For their first dance, the couple will pull on the jerseys of their favorite Chiefs players. They both had planned to slip into matching 15’s of Patrick Mahomes, but then thought it odd that the star quarterback would be dancing with himself. So Walkowiak switched to tight end Travis Kelce. After all, good marriages require compromise.
“We’ll have to keep an eye on the clock to be watching the time of the game,” Bailey said. “When it hits that 10-minute mark in the second quarter, maybe we’ll go upstairs and we’ll change, and we’ll be the halftime show.”
They feel comfortable being a little whimsical considering this is the second marriage for both. But, a year ago, when they booked the stately Oliver Building downtown for the event, the couple unwittingly chose the nation’s biggest sports holiday, blissfully unaware their beloved Chiefs would be playing in their first Super Bowl in 50 years.
The two are numerology buffs and entertained the thought of holding the ceremony on May 10 — 5/10/20 — before realizing that was Mother’s Day. Instead, they chose the palindromic 02/02/2020.
Who wouldn’t want to go to a pre-planned, paid-for, free-liquor, free-food Super Bowl party?
“It was an unexpected surprise when we found out that was the date of the Super Bowl. It wasn’t, '`Uh oh, we’ve got a problem,’” Walkowiak said. “It felt right from the beginning.”
They’re guessing their football-crazy friends will feel the same way.
“Who wouldn’t want to go to a pre-planned, paid-for, free-liquor, free-food Super Bowl party?” Bailey said.
The couple met four years ago on a dating site, where they were a 93% match. Walkowiak, 52, is in sales and a drummer by night. Bailey, 51, has a background in event planning, and has meticulously mapped out what will now be part-wedding, part-tailgate celebration.
“It’s going to look like the Chiefs vomited all over this room,” Bailey said.
Their vows will take place before kickoff, then they will watch the game with family and friends on multiple pull-down screens. The reception will feature Chiefs pillows adorning couches and chairs, footballs as centerpieces, M&Ms and Jell-O shots in team colors, and a goalpost that Bailey fashioned out of pool noodles.
"… I was about 90% done with the wedding decorations before the Chiefs made the Super Bowl … this completely took a detour,” Bailey said. “All I’ve been doing for the past week is making Chiefs decorations.”
For nearly two weeks, that’s the way it’s been all around Kansas City, where the Chiefs’ already loyal fanbase has been supercharged by the team making the Super Bowl for the first time since quarterback Len Dawson and company defeated the Minnesota Vikings to finish the 1969 season.
“You can feel the electricity here,” Walkowiak said. “Everything is red. Everyone is walking around with a permanent smile on their face.”
Even somber occasions are different. Lee Johnson, pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in neighboring Prairie Village, Kan., recently officiated a memorial service that began precisely when the Chiefs kicked off the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans.
“People had their phones out, and they have those [Apple] watches now and they were looking down,” he said. “That’s how I knew they were following the game. I left my phone and anything I had in my office, because I know I’m weak. I knew that would save me from checking the score.”
Johnson, who said the service was for a woman in her 90s who had “led a good long life,” noticed the mood was especially subdued at the service when the Chiefs fell behind early.
Spirits would brighten.
“One of our soloists told me the score, and the Chiefs were down, 17-7,” he said. “I went to my office and watched them come back. I went down to the reception, and you could tell people were more pleased.”
Johnson is known for composing irreverent messages on the church marquee. One earlier this season trumpeted a prayer vigil for Mahomes’ knee. This week, the board read: “Thy Chiefs Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth …
… “and in Miami.”