Jake and Jessica’s April Fools’ Day wedding was no joke. But it was a surprise.
The couple hatched the secret plan while hiking at Crystal Springs early last month. Engaged since November, they were trying to figure out when to have their wedding, but with two weddings already on their calendar, they were a bit stumped and a little overwhelmed with everything they had to plan.
What if we have it on April Fools’ Day, one of them – they can’t remember which one – asked. And in keeping with the day’s crazy theme, why not make it a surprise? They ran with the idea.
“The more we laughed and joked about it and all the different scenarios, it just fell into place,” said the bride, Jessica DeHart.
Normally, selecting a venue is a tough decision, but not for Jessica and groom Jake Lewis. He’s the general manager of the Crossroads Social House and the facility’s VIP room was the perfect choice. The Social House has a restaurant, so Lewis catered the affair, too.
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But what to tell people to get them there at 7 p.m.? The couple told most people it was an April Fools’ Day party, but slipped up and told some friends and family other stories, like it was a chance to hang out with friends and bowl. Out-of-state relatives were told the truth so they would be sure to attend.
In hindsight, they realized they should have told everyone the exact same thing, like perhaps it was an engagement party. Some friends didn’t attend because they thought it was a simple bowling party.
“You need to have one good lie to get people there,” DeHart said, adding that a few people became suspicious when they realized family members from out of state were coming to the party.
One surprised guest was friend and co-worker David Manley, who works with Jessica at the Wythe Joint Industrial Development Authority.
“I knew I was going to a social gathering but presumed it was a party with no particular occasion,” he said. “I was thinking about going out of town that weekend but was told I should attend, so I did. It didn’t really arouse my suspicions but clearly it should have. There were audible sounds of surprise that night when the true purpose of our gathering was revealed, so I know I was not alone. It’s hard to keep secrets well so I applaud Jessica and Jake on maintaining the mystery. If they can do that, marriage should be easy!”
Friend Nate Montgomery was “absolutely surprised.”
He said everyone suspected something was amiss because it was April Fools’ Day, but no one suspected a surprise, pop-up wedding.
“I thought it was going to be some sort of joke since it was April Fools’ Day,” he said. “They did a great job of keeping everybody in the dark. It was a blast; everyone was bowling and eating snacks.”
One person who was suspicious, but still surprised, was Jake’s mother, Teresa Lewis, who also wondered why her daughter, Rebecca, was coming from South Carolina.
“They told me it was an April Fools’ Day party,” she said. “Who has an April Fools’ Day party? And they insisted I be there at 7 p.m. “
She was also told to wear something nice.
Who wears a dress to a bowling alley, she wondered.
But, still, the mother of the groom almost missed the big reveal. She was out of the room when Jake and Jessica unveiled a sign that said “Surprise – we are getting married!”
As for the bridal party, Jessica had several friends there. Jake picked his groomsmen from his friends in attendance. One of Jessica’s girlfriends couldn’t make it, so she wore a pair of earrings the friend had previously made for her.
Friend Shane Terry helped the couple plan the nuptials. The chocolate and vanilla cake, made by My Cup Runneth Over Bakery in Bland, matched the official colors of olive green, teal green and orange. Mike Pugh of HOPE Inc. unveiled the sign, which was met with a roar of the crowd, and performed the marriage ceremony.
As the crowd of about 60 people signaled its approval, Jake made sure the flowers and decorated trellis appeared. After the ceremony, guests signed the official guestbook – a bowling pin.
Jake and Jessica’s love story goes back to late 2019 when they reconnected after having met years earlier at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre, where Jessica performed and Jake worked in the restaurant. They started dating right before the coronavirus pandemic.
They said the pandemic sped up the relationship, and during quarantine they played lots of Yahtzee, a game popular in Jessica’s family.
“We played Yahtzee so much we started collecting Yahtzee games,” Jake said.
After their surprise wedding, it was time for the honeymoon. In March, while planning the ceremony, Jake asked his boss and Crossroads Social Club owner Nick Patel if they could use the VIP room. He said of course and asked Jake if he could fly anywhere for the honeymoon, where would it be. Knowing that outdoor enthusiast Jessica “is all about hiking,” Jake said Denver, Colorado.
Ten minutes later, it was Jake’s turn to be surprised with two first-class tickets to the Mile-High City in his email inbox, courtesy of Patel.
“He is a really, really great guy to work for,” Jake said.
The newlyweds, who have returned from Denver ready to begin their new life, are happy their wedding was a surprise to so many. And, who knows, it might have sparked a surprise wedding trend.
“Kourtney Kardashian did it two days after we did,” Jake said. “Instead of keeping up with the Kardashians, they are keeping up with us.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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