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Venue: Marines Memorial Club and Hotel, San Francisco, California
Aaron and I first met as kids through family friends, but we didn't start dating until 2004, when I met Aaron at a Superbowl party. We hit it off right away, but he was getting deployed to Afghanistan. During his tour of duty there, we corresponded constantly, and he called me all the time.
We were together for three and a half years before we finally got married, and during that time he was away on three deployments. Even when he was home, he was based in North Carolina, and I was back in California.
We wanted to have our wedding in April, but then Aaron's tour in Iraq was extended, so we had to move the date to July.
For our wedding location, we chose the Marines Memorial Club and Hotel in Union Square — it was an obvious choice for us. The wedding was about a hundred people, mostly close friends and family. We wanted to have some military touches at the wedding. Many of the groomsmen were former military, but most chose to wear tuxes, since they couldn't fit into their uniforms anymore.
Aaron has been a squad leader in Iraq the last two times he was deployed, and had a young man named Stephen Smith serving in his squad. Stephen (we call him "Smitty") lost his leg due to an IED. He was able to fly out to San Francisco from Walter Reed to be a part of our ceremony. When it came time for the rings, Aaron's best man fumbled through his pockets looking for them and then all of a sudden there's Smitty coming down the aisle in his uniform, bearing the rings on his hat! It was a wonderful surprise and a very touching moment of our wedding.
During the reception my dad had the DJ at the wedding call every current and prior service member there on the dance floor and they had a special song and toast for them. Aaron wore his sword, and we used it to cut the cake!
My grandfather had served as a Marine in the Second World War, and my family's gift to Aaron were my grandfather's Eagle, Globe and Anchors — golden Marine insignia that Aaron wore on the collar of his dress blues and on his "cover" (his hat).
Jennifer, our Bella photographer was great. She had lots of great photo ideas. We rode the cable car and strolled through downtown San Francisco, feeling like the main attraction. Many people stopped to congratulate us and even asked to take photos with us. That was pretty cool! We now live in Washington DC, where Aaron is serving in a new job. I miss San Francisco, and hope to come back soon. In the meantime, our photographs are a wonderful memory of home.
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