On July 10, 2009, Jessica was supposed to go on a date. She was stood up, so she went to the Italian American Festival with her sister and some of her sister’s friends. Not long after arriving at the Stark County Fairgrounds, the girls were approached by Ryan and one of his friends. Jessica immediately was attracted to Ryan and felt a connection.
After some small talk, Jessica and Ryan soon found out that they had shared passions. They talked all night about faith, love, goals and aspirations—more than your typical first-date conversation.
As Jessica said, “It felt like we were the only two people in the universe. Something just felt right.”
She finally understood the old adage of when you find Mr. Right, you will just know. She felt that with Ryan. There was a moment at the festival when they had to cross a dance floor full of couples slow dancing. While walking through the couples—with the youngest appearing to be in their 60s—Jessica just knew that she would be sharing the rest of her dances with Ryan.
This night marked the beginning of their relationship. A couple of years went by, and Jessica and Ryan found themselves back at the Italian American Festival in 2012. This time would be extra special. This was the night Ryan would propose to Jessica. After leaving the festival, the couple went to Jessica’s parents’ house. They decided to sit outside and enjoy the sunset. Ryan knew being outside was the perfect place to propose, as Jessica loves the outdoors. He pulled out some extra-long sparklers but couldn’t get them to light. He later told Jessica that the reason for the sparklers was so that he could say, “If you think this sparkles, try this on for size” before proposing with the ring.
Because the sparklers wouldn’t light, he had to take a different approach. When he leaned over to propose, he clumsily fell out of his chair and was fumbling around—being nervous was unlike him. Jessica stared in amazement when she saw the ring and thought she heard him say, “Will you marry me?” Her initial response was “Is this real?” Ryan wondered if she was asking about the ring, or the proposal itself. They both laughed and she said yes!
May 31, 2014, arrived, and Ryan and Jessica were ready to say “I do!” They decided to give each other a wedding gift. Ryan spoiled Jessica with not one, but four gifts, including a Precious Moments wedding couple figurine—for her collection, a pearl necklace, pearl earrings and a pearl bracelet, all of which she wore down the aisle. She gave him a rose gold Michael Kors watch with a tag that read “See you at noon!” He also wore his gift on their big day.
Styled with a vintage chic vibe, the ceremony at Our Lady of Peace in Plain Township was better than Jessica and Ryan ever could have imagined. It was extra special to Jessica that the ceremony was held at that church because it was the same church her parents were married at 34 years prior.
Asked what her favorite part of the ceremony was, Jessica answered, “… the thing I remember most about the ceremony is how nervous Ryan was. As I said before, he is normally the person who is calm, cool and collected in stressful situations. I was worried that I would be nervous, but it was quite the opposite. Ryan was so nervous that he was shaking, and it still makes my heart melt to think that marrying me is the only thing that can make him a big romantic ball of nerves!”
Another highlight from the ceremony was the gifts they gave the guests. As guests were leaving, they were handed a paper cone filled with dried lavender. The cones were made from copies of Jessica’s favorite love stories by one of her favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks. She absolutely loves the smell of lavender and loves that now every time she smells it, she thinks of their wedding.
Keeping with her love of the outdoors—but also considering Ohio’s crazy weather—they had their reception at Hoover Park Banquet Hall, which essentially is a large pavilion with screens around most of the building. It was close enough to being outside without actually being outside. And the place has significance to both Ryan and Jessica, as they both had family reunions there growing up.
With centerpieces made of either old books and bottles, gorgeous flowers nestled in wooden flower boxes or spray-painted bottles filled with pinwheels of all shapes and sizes, the tables were beautiful. They also had the hall decorated with fabric banners, chipped wooden doors, chalkboards, painted picture frames, wooden shutters and antiques—all found by Jessica and her friends.
Along with the beautiful decor, the couple was very pleased with the catering and the pies they had instead of a cake. They also gave guests Fry Pies to take home as favors.
As wonderful as their wedding day was, Jessica and Ryan were even more excited several weeks after the wedding when they found out they were expecting their first child. A year later, and little Laney Mae is the apple of their eyes.
They once heard that having a child is like “watching your heart walk around outside of your chest,” and they wholeheartedly believe in that statement. They attribute the birth of their daughter to strengthening their relationship and support of each other.
In their marriage, they’re most excited to grow old together, while making memories with their children; being able to enjoy family traditions with their children; and of course, getting to spend the rest of their lives with their best friend.
A year after their wedding, and Jessica and Ryan explain married life as nothing short of amazing. From their experience, they have some words of wisdom for soon-to-be newlyweds.
The couple advises other couples to soak up every minute of their wedding day that they possibly can and to make sure they take a step back and enjoy their first day as husband and wife. They also mentioned not to sweat the small stuff because nobody is going to remember that the bakery forgot to put on the cake topper—something that happened to them. And last of all, Jessica and Ryan believe that you should never take life too seriously or take each other for granted.