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Secret’s out about Kroenke-Burditt wedding: It’s good for businesses

Columbia florist, gift shop and even a coffee brewer participate in helping to create the big day for couple’s marriage
Friday, September 22, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:32 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quick: Name the couple that has bridal registries at McAdams in Columbia along with Gearys of Beverly Hills and two national chains, Crate & Barrel and Williams-Sonoma. Here’s a clue: They are not registered at Wal-Mart.

Whitney Ann Kroenke, 28, the daughter of prominent Columbia residents Ann and Stan Kroenke, will exchange marriage vows on Saturday with former Warsaw, Mo., football star Ben Burditt, also 28, at Kroenke’s parents’ home on the city’s south side.

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Businesses are tight-lipped with details of Whitney Kroenke’s wedding.

The wedding itself is being planned by Mindy Weiss of Los Angeles — home to both the bride and groom. Weiss’ Web site refers to her as “one of the most sought after event planners and lifestyle experts in the United States” who is “known for her creative and unusual ideas, her unexpected decor accents and her exquisite attention to every last detail.” Her credits include the weddings of singer Gwen Stefani, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and TV producer Aaron Spelling.

The wedding falls on the same day as an MU home football game, and the game is optional afternoon entertainment for those going to the wedding. Harpo’s, a downtown bar and traditional MU sports hot spot, was chosen to host wedding guests as a place to gather.

“It’s going to be a jumpin’ weekend in Columbia,” Skip DuCharme, owner of Lakota Coffee Co., said.

Lakota, McAdams’ Ltd. Fine Jewelry and Gifts, My Secret Garden and Tiger Ice Co. are among local businesses contributing to the festivities. In addition, wedding guests are being directed to hotels, downtown shops and other restaurants.

DuCharme has been fulfilling the caffeine needs of the crew in charge of building a sizeable reception hall in the Kroenke’s backyard. “In three days, a small city seems to have sprouted out of the grass,” he said.

For the past week, DuCharme has been delivering 11 to 12 gallons of coffee a day — that’s 200 cups of coffee. He will keep the coffee flowing after the wedding, too, for the crews as they dismantle the wedding set.

Lakota got involved when a local caterer called him to help provide for the workers preparing for the wedding, and answered the call by providing “super-strong” coffees, DuCharme said. “There hasn’t been too much decaf.”

Chet Breitwieser of McAdams said he’s done business with the Kroenke family for years. Kroenke and Burditt, he said, are “just one of the couples that registered with us. Like the other brides, they selected a number of lovely things.”

Most of the items listed on the couple’s gift registry have been sold. A Waterford “Purple Mountains Majesty” bowl, which Breitwieser described as a large, limited edition centerpiece bowl, was sold this week for $675. One of the few remaining gifts listed on the registry Thursday was two sets of silver-plated Fleur de Lis napkin rings for $15.95 each.

Breitwieser said he wasn’t surprised that the community is so involved with the wedding. “They have always been very good to this community.”

While some of those involved in the wedding preparations are excited, others are treating the event as a gated affair.

There’s been talk about the possibility that the family has enlisted Wolfgang Puck Catering, which is based in Los Angeles and owned by the famous chef himself. In response to an inquiry, Clare Davis, senior director of brand communications for Wolfgang Puck, replied in an e-mail: “Unfortunately, I am unable to confirm that.”

My Secret Garden on North Ninth Street is involved, but its owner is reluctant to discuss specifics.

“All I can say is that the Kroenke wedding is beneficial to Columbia’s economy,” owner Ruth LaHue said, adding that she’s helped get other businesses involved. “All kinds of people are being included.”

An employee of a Columbia restaurant hired to deliver meals to the Kroenke residence in the days leading up to the Saturday wedding said some of the meals had their own themes. Pressed for details, the employee said the family had requested that no information about the caterer’s role be disclosed.

A representative of a local limousine service initially said its firm was providing wedding shuttles for guests, but would not confirm that information in a follow-up phone call.

Tracy Lovell of Tiger Ice said the company was involved in the wedding, but she declined to elaborate.

When Gold’s Gym general manager Caroline Heller learned her business was listed as one of the places for wedding guests to consider, she decided to open her doors this weekend at no charge to wedding guests and the community alike. “We would love to have people come and work out for free,” she said. “Why not?”

Efforts to reach the Kroenke family to discuss the wedding were unsuccessful.

Brian Kitts, senior director of marketing and public relations for Kroenke Sports Enterprises in Denver, said he was “unable to provide personal information about the Kroenke family.”

A representative for The Kroenke Group, a real estate development company based in Columbia and owned by Stan Kroenke, provided an e-mail address for Tomago Collins to request information; the two worked together as producers on a documentary. Messages for Collins were not returned as of Thursday evening.

Samantha Friedman and Nate Birt contributed to this report.


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