Wedding Bells

Tradition Reigns for Wellesley and Weston Brides and Grooms

Liz Suneby writer

Proposals made on bended knee, white wedding gowns, diamond rings, dancing, and warm weather honeymoons are as popular today as in years gone by. Of course, there are new twists: ceremonies and receptions that celebrate different heritages, honeymoons in eco-friendly accommodations, digital proposals, and wedding Web sites. Hopefully these stories of Wellesley and Weston couples who recently tied the knot will bring back happy memories of your own or provide inspiration for weddings in your future.

Tricia & Ben

Wellesley native Benjamin Feldman, a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, was stationed outside of San Diego, California when he met his future bride at a bar.

Patricia Gonzalez was in town for a friend’s birthday and after a hectic day, reluctantly agreed to join her friends for an evening out. On that fateful eve, Ben and Tricia met, exchanged small talk as well as phone numbers, and in the months ahead, as Tricia explains, “took the relationship very, very slowly.”

Ben, on the other hand, knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Tricia after just a few months, a realization reinforced by his first deployment to Iraq. “Surviving a deployment as a military girlfriend is an extremely scary and demanding task that few people have the capability to accomplish. Tricia provided me with the necessary love and support to handle seven months away from home. After surviving one of the greatest tests any couple could endure, I knew I needed to secure her forever.”

Back from Iraq, Ben proposed to Tricia on Valentine’s Day. Ben recounts the day: “We picked up sandwiches and drove to our favorite spot by the coast. Tricia is quite possibly the slowest eater on the planet. My 93-year-old Grandma Nellie eats faster than she does. My heart was racing as we ate because I had the ring in one pocket and a fortune cookie with a fortune that read ‘Will you marry me?’ in the other.” As soon as Tricia cracked open the cookie, Ben dropped to one knee and presented her with a ring.

Ben and Tricia planned their wedding for April of 2010, but when Ben found out he had been reassigned to Naples, Italy, they moved the date up to January.

Ben and Tricia’s wedding was infused with traditions from Tricia’s Philippine, and Ben’s Jewish, heritage. Their ceremony included Ben’s grandmother’s Bible from 1939 and the Philippine candle, veil, and cord rituals influenced by the Spanish who colonized the Philippines. At the reception, a rabbi recited the Jewish blessings over wine and challah, the couple stomped on a glass, and the guests joined in for a lively dance of the Horah.

Ben and Tricia whisked off to honeymoon on an exotic island in Asia before beginning their next overseas adventure, three years in Europe for Ben’s new tour of duty.

Colleen & Matthew

Colleen Howard, Ben’s Wellesley High School classmate (Class of 2000), crossed paths with her future husband, also a Lieutenant, at a concert.

When Colleen met Lt. Matthew Mothander, an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, they were unaware that they lived a block apart in the North End until a week prior. Matt had just moved to Cambridge to study mechanical engineering and naval architecture at MIT.

A year and a half after their auspicious encounter, Matt proposed to Colleen at the Chatham Lighthouse on the Coast Guard Station in Cape Cod. They were enjoying the harbor view at dusk when Matt popped the question. And while Colleen and Matt married at the landlocked Henderson House mansion in Weston, Colleen’s mother orches­trated a fun nautical theme for the décor, a surf and turf dinner menu, and a first dance to a Beach Boys song.

Immediately following their June 2009 wedding, Matt and Colleen rushed off to the Washington D.C. area where Matt began his job at the Coast Guard headquarters, Colleen began her job at an interior design firm, and where they bought their first home. The honeymoon had to wait until October.

Ashley & Jason

Chance also brought Wellesley native Jason Whyman together with his future wife when they bumped into each other at a restaurant in Boston. While it’s common wisdom that “timing is everything,” this certainly isn’t the case for Jason Whyman and Ashley Kalp. Their relationship became serious when Ashley was swamped studying for law school finals. And they realized they would be together, forever, when Ashley was cramming for the bar exam.

Jason created an iMovie to propose, which he ended with the following text frames: “You don’t marry someone you can live with. You marry someone you can’t live without. To be continued…” That was the cue for Jason to pop the question, but instead, he blurted out, “So?”

“So what?” asked Ashley, wanting to hear that special question. Jason obliged. And Ashley replied with a resounding, “Yes!”

Ashley and Jason married on a rainy evening last November at Ashley’s family synagogue in Marblehead. Cantor Jodi Sufrin from Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, Jason’s family synagogue, officiated at the ceremony.

The wedding was called for 6:00 pm, with the wedding party congregating at 5:00. At 5:00, no Cantor. At 5:30, still no Cantor. 5:45, 5:46, 5:47… 6:00 came and Cantor Sufrin raced in. Cantor Sufrin recounts her drive as, “the most nightmarish moment in my career. I kept getting more and more lost on a stormy night and was mortified!” Yet, when the bride and groom recount their wedding, they don’t even mention the glitch. All’s well that ends well.

Jason and Ashley honeymooned in Maui, enjoying relaxing days on beautiful beaches. Their one unrelaxing adventure was the 52-mile drive on the majestic Road to Hana filled with hairpin curves along steep cliffs. According to Ashley, she and Jason are set for life: “If we can survive the Road to Hana, we can survive anything!”

Allison & Matthew

Middle school, not chance, brought Weston native Matthew Godoff and his future bride together. Matthew and Allison Stoner became friends in eighth grade and remained good friends through high school. It wasn’t until Allison went to college in Texas and Matt in Florida, however, that their friendship developed into a romance. Numerous flights between the two states and summers together kept their romance kindled until they spent junior year abroad together in London and ultimately moved to Boston after graduation to begin careers and life in the same city.

Since Matt and Allison (and everyone who knew them since they were 13) were certain they would marry someday, Matt wanted the proposal to be a surprise. On a routine Thursday eve, Matt casually suggested using a gift certificate he won for the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons hotel. Allison didn’t suspect anything more than a nice dinner out.

Nice it was. Matt arranged for a quiet table overlooking Boston Common and for the waiter to bring a gift to Allison after dinner. When the waiter handed Allison the wrapped package, she put it aside to open at home thinking she knew what it was. Matt insisted she open it then and there. As soon as Allison realized the gift wasn’t what she expected, she knew something was up. Allison read the inscription surrounding the photo of the two of them about spending their life together. Matt got down on one knee with engagement ring in hand. He was triumphant, and Allison was definitely surprised.

Matt and Allison married in September 2009 at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston surrounded by 250 family and friends, many of whom had watched the two grow up together.

Sarah & Eric

A New England snow storm brought Dana Hall graduate and Wellesley resident, Sarah Summers, together with her husband-to-be when he helped her dig her car out from under two feet of snow.

Fortunately, chivalry is not dead. One snowy Saturday, as Sarah shoveled her driveway, two neighbors came by to help. A week later, one of the neighbors called to ask Sarah out. Sarah agreed, but didn’t catch his name, and to make matters worse, didn’t know which one of the two he was. Much to Sarah’s happiness, the guy she had hoped for arrived at the door. His name was Eric Fudeman.

According to Sarah, she and Eric were inseparable from their very first date. Sarah is currently the director of Dana Hall’s riding program, Eric is finishing his MBA at Babson, and they live on campus at Dana Hall.

Sarah learned to ride horses in Indonesia, after living all over Southeast Asia. Dana Hall’s riding program drew Sarah to Wellesley, where she spent her junior and senior years as a boarding student.

While you might expect Eric to have proposed to equestrian Sarah in a horse ring or a stable, he proposed on the beach in Rhode Island where he and Sarah learned to surf. Surfing is also the theme for their honeymoon. Sarah and Eric rode the waves off an island in Panama, staying in a bungalow that Sarah’s uncle built totally off the grid, with electricity powered by the sun and rain for water.

Jill & Bennett

A good old-fashioned “fix-up” is responsible for Jill Tayabji of Weston’s second marriage. Common friends brought Jill and Needham resident Bennett Alpert together for an evening at the theatre. Jill credits Bennett’s good sense of humor for a comfortable and fun first date. She credits their similar perspectives on life, and on their kids, for keeping them together.

After five years, Bennett proposed on Martha’s Vineyard, a place he and Jill both love. Bennett brought Jill back to a summer home they had considered buying – a house big enough to fit Jill’s three, and Bennett’s two, children. As they walked up the stairs, Bennett turned to Jill and asked if she could imagine living there with him. He then presented her with an engagement ring — in the house he had already purchased to start their life together.

Jill and Bennett married in June 2009, not surprisingly on the Vineyard, surrounded by close relatives and friends. “We wanted to be with people we love in a place we love,” explains Jill. The intimate celebration was exactly what Jill had hoped for, a special time without the typical big wedding nerves.

They honeymooned after vacationing twelve days with their five children on the Vineyard. A quick get-away to New York City was all they could fit in, given both their parenting schedules. With four teens and one tween between them, Jill and Bennett live with lots of commotion. Surely Bennett’s sense of humor comes in handy.

Summer 2023