Jessica Madrigal has always been a big Green Bay Packers’ fan.
“I’ve been going to games with dad (at Lambeau Field) since I was 3,” the 22-year old Hinckley woman said. “I always told my dad I’m going to get married there.”
As the water girl for the Sandwich High School football team, Madrigal – whose parents are Gary and Laura Noll – met one of the players, Nick Madrigal, who was an all-conference and all-area middle linebacker and offensive lineman. The two began dating, fell in love and eventually started talking about marriage.
There was, however, a bit of an obstacle before they could marry.
After graduating from SHS in 2007, Nick Madrigal enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a corporal mechanic with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. Stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, he served four years, eight months, which included two deployments, one to Africa and the other to Afghanistan.
Graduating a year later, in 2008, Jessica Madrigal went to Northern Illinois University where she earned a degree in nursing. She is employed at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.
“It was very hard,” Jessica Madrigal said, of keeping up their long-distance relationship. “I went out there whenever I could.”
However, distance wasn’t the problem facing them.
Nick Madrigal, you see, is a life-long Bears’ fan.
As any football fan knows, the Bears-Packers have the longest, and arguably the most bitter, rivalry of any two NFL teams, which is often reflected in their fan bases.
“She’ll be in one room and I’ll be in another one watching the game,” Nick Madrigal said, laughing.
When the couple started talking about where they wanted to exchange vows, Jessica mentioned her desire to have the nuptials at Lambeau Field, the Packers’ home field.
“I thought ‘absolutely not.’” Nick Madrigal, 23, said.
Like a good Packer running game, however, Jessica Madrigal was able to wear down her fiance’s defenses.
“Once we started talking about it more, I called and I got more information,” she said, adding that Nick wanted to look into Soldier Field, the Bears’ home field.
But like the Packers have done in their last four outings with the Bears, Jessica finally won out.
“I figured it’s more like a bride’s day,” Nick Madrigal said, about giving in. “She’s a big Packers fan and she always wanted to get married there. A couple of my groomsmen were Bears’ fans. They gave me a hard time, but they thought it was pretty cool.”
On June 30, just nine days after Nick Madrigal was honorably discharged from the Marines, the couple became husband and wife in a 4 p.m. ceremony on a fourth-story balcony overlooking the atrium at what many consider “the crown jewel of the NFL.” The ceremony was performed in front of 160 guests by a Wisconsin minister Jessica Madrigal found online.
“He was very nice,” she said.
Although most people probably don’t realize the field is available, Jessica Madrigal said marriages are held at Lambeau Field throughout the year, except on game days. In their case, she said they were able to pick out the time they wanted to get married and where in the stadium they wanted their reception, which was available until midnight.
“We were the only ones there,” she said, adding that there was another wedding later that night. “It was awesome. They did an amazing job. You could tell they do this all year round. The food was amazing. They were very accommodating.”
Despite their surroundings, Jessica Madrigal said she stuck to pink and orange for her wedding colors rather than go with Packer colors of green and gold so they could “still keep it like a wedding.”
Not to be shut out, Nick Madrigal said he had a groom’s cake that was “all Bears.” At the reception, which was set up like a tailgate buffet with brats and barbecue chicken, he wore a Bears jersey while his bride wore a cheesehead veil.
The guest book, Nick Madrigal said, was like a regular football jersey, only half Bears and half Packers.
“I thought it was pretty cool, incorporating the Bears and Packers into it,” he said.
For her parents, who took Nick to a Lambeau Field game when he was in high school to see his first Bears’ game, the couple had a brick engraved in their honor and placed outside the stadium, which they presented at the rehearsal dinner.
Making their first home in Hinckley, the couple looked forward to the Thursday, Sept. 13 first regular season match-up between the Packers and Bears at Lambeau Field. Prior to that game, the Bears led the all-time series, which began in 1921, 92-86-6.
As one might expect, both predicted their team to win. Nick predicted a Bears’ victory, 30-0, and Jessica predicted, “Packers, 21, and the Bears less than that.”
Thanks to her father, Jessica planned to be at the game while Nick, who is just starting a new job with the Burlington Railroad as an intermodal equipment operator, had to work.