It’s a beautiful afternoon. Greeted by bright orange foliage, you head toward the bluff where the sun will soon bow to an endearing young couple exchanging their vows.
Your heart warms to what promises to be a wedding as beautiful and predictable as a November sunset. As you approach the guestbook area, however, the Captain America shield and Avengers card box tip you to the fact that this may not be an entirely ordinary wedding.
Jaime and Kaitlyn Valdez walked through the doors of Starbucks with smiles and shook my hand. As we began to chat a bit, I was instantly drawn to their cheerful spirits and kind demeanors. They struck me as typical yet mature young newlyweds. I could not wait to hear how this normal young couple chose to incorporate their nontraditional interests into their otherwise traditional wedding.
Their love story began when Jaime met Kaitlyn through a friend. “She was dating my best friend’s brother, and we always got along. When that didn’t work out, I kind of went for it,” said Jaime. Soon he began attending Kaitlyn’s soccer games with the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville women’s soccer team. This began a four-year dating relationship while Kaitlyn finished up her bachelor’s degree in communications at U of O and her master’s degree in college student personnel at Arkansas Tech University.
Jaime, a Chrysler technician for Orr AutoMall (formerly Valley Motors) for six years, began planning a fairy tale proposal in the most literal sense. Kaitlyn’s family frequently vacationed in Disney World, and Jaime would be going with them for the first time. In preparation for the getaway, he asked Katilyn’s parents for their daughter’s hand in marriage and their help in surprising her when he popped the question.
“He treated me like a princess all day,” Kaitlyn recalled fondly. “He bought me a tiara to wear. I had always wanted one. He also got me an ‘I am celebrating’ button. When I asked what I was celebrating he told me I was celebrating his first visit to Disney World. Later I realized the real reason for the celebration.”
That evening, the family arrived at the Magic Kingdom early to get the best view for the nightly fireworks show. Kaitlyn still had no idea of Jaime’s plans or that her parents were in on it. “As the music for the fireworks show began, I acted like I had to tie my shoe,” Jaime laughed. Kaitlyn noticed he was taking a long time and said, “What are you doing?” Then she turned to him and realized he was on one knee with a ring in his hand.
“Will you make all my dreams come true?” Jaime recalled.
Kaitlyn said yes — after she stopped crying — and her parents gave Jaime and Kaitlyn Disney bride and groom hats to complete the moment. He also pulled out two “just engaged” buttons to go with the ring.
During their year-and-one-half engagement, Jaime and Kaitlyn worked on planning a wedding that would embody their personalities. It was a quest for a seamless blend of tradition, Kaitlyn’s love of Disney and a particular interest of Jaime’s — superheroes. “It was more superhero, but I had my Disney moments in it,” Kaitlyn explained.
“It wasn’t over-the-top,” Jaime added. “Our cake was a normal three-tiered cake, but at the bottom it had a Hulk fist popping out. It was little things like that throughout the wedding. We wanted it to be traditional, but we wanted to make it our own. Using the superhero theme and Disney brought out what we liked.”
Most of the superhero elements in the wedding itself were purposefully understated so as not to eclipse the sacredness of the event. After being greeted by the Captain America shield and Avengers card box in the entry way, guests probably thought nothing more of superheroes as the white-adorned bride glided in.
Desiring to keep traditional elements in this outdoor wedding, Kaitlyn entered through handmade wooden doors overarched with the Bible verse, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” The song “I See the Light” from the movie Tangled serenaded her bridesmaids’ entrances, and her aisle runner held ironed-on photos and memories of the couple’s four-year courtship. The unity candle song, ”A Whole New World” from the movie Aladdin, tapped more of her Disney roots. And vows pledged against a canopy of nature’s orange brushstrokes left young girls dreaming of their own fairytale wedding beneath an Ozark sunset.
But guests were in for a surprise after the pastor pronounced Jaime and Kaitlyn Valdez man and wife, as the couple exited to the Avengers theme song. “Everyone just laughed when they heard it,” Jaime recalled.”But all I could think of was, ‘I’m married!'”
At the reception, held at First Baptist Church Clarksville, the couple entered through a paper brick wall as Jaime ripped through it with Hulk fists. In the reception itself, understated superhero decorations could be found on the groom’s cake table. Even the young man who caught the garter found a Hulk cufflink attached, a little detail that showed the groom isn’t the only superhero fan in the family.
But the most endearing use of superhero elements were moments between the groom and his groomsmen. “They all had superhero shirts underneath their suits,” Kaitlyn explained. The groom was Hulk, and his five groomsmen were Jaime’s five favorite superheroes—Captain America, Thor, Spiderman, Ironman and Superman. “And for pictures they each had a prop with them,” Jaime added.
Unknown to the young men, Jaime’s groomsmen gifts were accessories to go along with their personas — a Captain America shield, Thor’s hammer, Spiderman gloves, Ironman fists, and a Superman cape. The men opened their gifts before the pictures were taken as they “ripped” open their shirts Superman style and posed in superhero glory.
As Jaime explained these details with a gleam in his eye, I watched his bride smile with delight. Although superheroes are her husband’s interest, she enjoys them, too. When a new Marvel movie comes out in theaters you will find Jaime and Kaitlyn at the IMAX watching it first on the big screen.
After gleaning the details of their one-of-a-kind wedding, I asked the most important question: what is their favorite superhero movie? Kaitlyn responds right away. “Ironman. I like the comedy and the action of the Ironman movies.” Jaime, however, has more trouble deciding. I feel like I am asking him to pick his favorite child. In the end, he chooses the first Avengers movie, closely followed by a surprising Guardians of the Galaxy.
As my talk with Jaime and Kaitlyn came to a close, part of me did not want it to end. Here is a couple who brim with unrequited love, who worked to make each other’s wedding dreams come true. In every detail, from the traditional vows and the Disney fairy tale accents to the superhero touches, their wedding embodied something that can only be described as magical.