Fei and Dani on their wedding day

Fei and Dani on their wedding day

Dani Deahl

Why I Got Married In A Record Store

Gramophone Records is a Chicago institution. It isn’t just a store. It’s a scene. The shop has been around for over 50 years and is an integral part of the city’s rich dance music legacy. Derrick Carter worked there. So did Jessie De La Pena. And I was the first person to get married there.

My name is Dani Deahl. I am a DJ married to Fei (Phives), another DJ. Yes, that makes us two DJs who got married in a record store.

Dance music is the foundation of my relationship with Fei. We met when he booked me to play the Porn & Chicken dance party, a weekly he used to organize. We hit it off and quickly forged a friendship through our mutual love of electro, tech house, and melodic techno. Then, shortly after, we had our first date on Record Store Day. We picked up cupcakes and delivered them to the busy staff at Gramaphone, spending the afternoon thumbing through bins of vinyl. Later on that night, we went to see Wolfgang Gartner.

Less than 30 days later, we were engaged. Then, two years later, we recreated that first date and got married inside Gramaphone Records.

Everything about our story “breaks the rules.” We met at one of Chicago’s wildest parties. We only dated for a month before making a crazy big life decision. We got married in a record store. But it’s who we are. I think sometimes… rules are arbitrary. And making your own rules in life can be just as important as those you choose to follow.

The rule we chose to follow: Make the event as unique to our personalities as possible. That guided all our decisions around the wedding, starting with Gramaphone as the location. Planning a wedding is stressful — especially when you want everything customized — but where it would be held was the easiest decision to make. There was never another option in our minds. The idea of sharing that moment in Gramaphone with our families just felt natural.

Once we made sure we could rent out the store, we built everything else around it. Our save-the-date invitations were artful mimics of Ticketmaster tickets (they were so indistinguishable from real tickets that they confused some relatives). The actual invitations were real 45 records with custom sleeves. Even our cake was decorated with the dotted pitch calibration pattern found at the bottom of a Technics 1200 platter.

Dance music carried through the ceremony into the reception. The tables were assigned dance genres instead of numbers (we sat at the house table, obviously), and friends DJed for us all night. The following week, we hosted a special edition of Porn & Chicken and “got married” a second time in front of everyone at the club. It was all an homage to our love of dance music and a way to share our story with the people who matter most in our lives.

Gramophone Records feels like it’s a part of my DNA. It isn’t just the place I got married. It was my gateway into house music. When I started DJing in high school, vinyl was pretty much the only option, and I was lucky to live in a city with multiple record shops. Back then, I’d take my allowance and ride the 22 bus every weekend to comb through the bins and buy a couple of pieces of vinyl. I loved the scuffed black and white checkered floor, the smell of the cardboard jackets, and the surprise of stumbling into famous DJs. The store was a second home.

I think many DJs in Chicago feel sentimental about Gramaphone like I do. And it’s incredible to see its reach continue to reverberate beyond the city. It’s not only still the best spot for locals to get vinyl, it’s also become a destination point for traveling DJs. Gramophone is more than a store. It’s a cultural touchstone.

I don’t DJ with vinyl anymore, but supporting the store is still important to me today. It’s given me so much over the years, and I literally would not be the person I am today if it didn’t exist. (That’s kind of crazy to think about!)

So, the next time Record Store Day rolls around (or if you happen to be in town for a music festival like ARC), maybe hit up your crush and head over to your local shop to bring the staff a snack and buy a few tracks. You never know how things will end up.

Dani Deahl is a celebrated music journalist, DJ, and producer. She will be performing at ARC Music Festival Sunday, September 4, 2023.