Justine and Ben met in 2009 during resident advisor training at Santa Clara University. “From the beginning, I just felt this attraction to Ben,” Justine recalls.
And the attraction was mutual. “There are a few dates that definitely stand out in my mind as being moments when we were brought closer together,” Ben remembers. “One was our first date to downtown Palo Alto and the Stanford Theatre. Here, I introduced Justine to my love of old movies and discovered that we are both, in many ways, ‘old souls,’ often feeling as if we were born in the wrong time period. We [had] several more dates to this theatre during our courtship, and I eventually asked her to marry me on the [theatre’s] stage.”
Once engaged, the couple hoped to have a yearlong engagement, getting married the following spring. “But we soon realized that wouldn’t work with our schedules and our families’ schedules,” Justine says. “We were braving a move, I was starting grad school, and Ben [was] starting a new job. So why not throw a marriage in there, too? We decided to bump the wedding up to that fall, which gave us less than four months to plan!”
As fate would have it, Justine stumbled upon invitations online that matched one of her favorites movies, Disney/Pixar’s Up.
“That gave us the idea of incorporating themes from the movie into our wedding,” she says. “We didn’t want to overdo it though. Essentially, we wanted an ‘adventure theme’ that reflected our journey together as well as our personalities.”
They adapted key parts of the movie to fit their wedding, including the balloons, the mailbox and the adventure book. Another touch was naming the tables after places they had visited together.
For the ceremony and reception, the couple kept some traditions and ditched others. They had a “first look” prior to the ceremony, which turned out to be one of the only times they were alone on their special day. “It didn’t take anything away from the ceremony. We were still choked up, and I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if we hadn’t seen each other yet,” she says.
They stuck with the traditional vows, but also wrote personal ones. And they changed the garter toss into a comedy bit. “Ben pretended to play it up to ‘You Sexy Thing’ and then the music changed as he pulled the gags out from under my dress—a whoopee cushion, a candy bar, a Mickey plush, a celebrity picture and a spare garter. Everyone got a kick out of it, and it was fun for us too!”
As for the most emotional part of the day? The couple agrees that it was when Justine walked down the aisle. “I remember the music changing and knowing that she would be making her way down,” Ben says. “I remember looking up and seeing her, seeing how beautiful she was. Knowing what a journey we were about to engage upon was so overwhelming that it made me that much more emotional.”
Justine & Ben's Wedding Resources
- Cheshire Cat Inn in Santa Barbara
- Sheraton La Jolla
- Camelot Inn & Suites in Anaheim
- We had a candy bar where guests could fill a bag to take home with them.
- Both of us love candy and we had a blast going through the candy barrels at Winco.
- My grandma helped assemble the bags and labels, and surprised us with personalized M&Ms. They were so cute!
- We weren't familiar with the area so when we met with vendors we asked who they suggested for other things, and wound up choosing most of the people recommended. I think we got the best of the best and it was neat because they had all worked together before.
- Looking back the things that stand out to me the most are the little unique touches we added throughout the wedding. Even if people don't notice it's still worth doing if it has a special meaning to you.
- You will probably hear this a lot but don't get too caught up and stressed out over the small stuff. When the day comes, all those things won't matter anymore.
- After the wedding it's tempting to think about all the things you wish you had done, but don't dwell on it too much or it will start to tarnish the beautiful memory of you special day!
- On the day of the wedding, relax, take it all in, and try to enjoy every moment because it will fly by.