Couple Weds at Florence Cici's Pizza - with Company President Officiating
Eliza Wilde always thought she would get married at the Moonlight Fields Wedding venue in Lexington some time next year. It seemed a perfect location where she and her fiance Jon Kenyon would start their lives together.
But then an idea began to form in her mind of how to surprise Jon.
It began when Jon surprised her with his proposal on July 17.
Eliza was in the military and when she left, she attended Berea College, and one of her favorite places is the Pinnacles, a place where people can hike trails for over three hours.
Jon knew that it is her favorite place, and he also knew that as a child, Eliza loved the VeggiTales, stories about vegetables that interacted and promoted Christian values.
Of the characters, Eliza always joked that anyone who proposed to her should be dressed as Larry the Cucumber. In July, Eliza had been intent on doing a sunrise hike at the Pinnacles, so one day she and Jon got up very early and hiked up the mountain.
"The view was spectacular, and we stood there, as the sun rose, and it was breathtaking and magical," Eliza remembered. "Then Jon said 'Oh, what is that?' And I looked over and there is Larry the Cucumber walking out of the woods! When I looked back at Jon, he was down on one knee, and he asked me to marry him. There was also a photographer, and then we went down to the Boone Tavern, and about 30 friends and family were there to help us celebrate! It was so much fun!"
That's when Eliza became determined to surprise Jon, too.
Instead of Moonlight Fields, they would tie the knot at Cici's Pizza's location in Florence.
Whenever they are in the area, they eat there.
Since Eliza is older than Jon, and she expects that she will have trouble having children, so the two decided to get married this year instead of next year, so they can start in vitro treatments.
She falsely set up a plan for them to marry on Tuesday at the courthouse in Lexington, but the day before, Monday, the couple would dress up and go to Cici's in Florence.
Eliza checked in with Cici's to make sure it would be OK for a wedding ceremony to take place there.
Not only did Cici's management approve her request, but the president and chief operating officer Jeff Hetsel, is an ordained minister, and flew in to officiate at the ceremony.
The Cici's franchise in Florence is owned by Rob Pfeiffer and David Squibb, who set everything up, ordered the flowers, put tablecloths on, decorated with lights and balloons in Eliza's favorite colors, and made a gigantic meat lovers pizza, which is Jon's favorite.
The couple first met at the Embassy Suites in Lexington Green where they both worked, Eliza at the front desk and Jon as a bartender.
"He was my confidante, my friend," she remembered. "But after my birthday in 2018, he joined the group of us at the restaurant, and as I was eating his cheesy fries, I started to realize he was someone I liked. Gradually we started dating, and we fell in love."
Eliza has wore a formal teal dress and her mother delivered a teal shirt for Jon.
Company president and wedding officiant Jeff Hetsel flew in from Dallas and jumped right in to make a cinnamon roll wedding cake.
"At first we were just supposed to do the reception, but then some people realized that I am a minister, and they wondered if we could do the whole thing," explained Hetsel. "I will be marrying my son and his fiancee very soon, but this will be my first Cici's wedding ever. My wife and I got married thirty years ago on a pier in Ft. Lauderdale, so ours wasn't a traditional church wedding, but this is very special."
The wedding went off as planned.
Jon was very surprised, and they both went off to change, and with shaking hands and love in their eyes, they said 'I do' and exchanged rings.
The reception following the wedding featured champagne and pizza for 100 guests.
"Every year at our conference we have what we call wild stories, where something happened at one location or another that points up how community minded we like to be," said Hetsel. "I think this story will be hard to beat. It is just a really great story."
Cici's Pizza was founded in 1985, and is an unlimited pizza buffet.
The couple launched a GoFundMe account in case anyone would like to donate for their IVF journey or anything else along the way, at https://gofund.me/e424b4f3.