Two newly engaged St. Louis couples share their love stories.
Rachel Zuccarello, 24 & Ben Weis, 25
Occupations: I am an account manager at Paradowski Creative, and Ben is an experienced associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Believe it or not: Although we didn’t meet until age 21, Ben and I have had mutual friends since the age of 12. We grew up just three minutes away from each other in St. Louis, and my best friends in high school were his best friends in grade school. Same goes for college—I knew all of his friends and he knew all of mine, but we didn’t know each other.
First Sight: I was at a friend’s 21st birthday party when a very tall (I like tall!) guy walked in. He was well dressed (which was important because at the time, I was a fashion major) and had a smile that made me go weak in the knees.
The Proposal: On Oct. 12, 2012, Ben had planned a surprise two-part date for our anniversary, but after his original plan to take me on a romantic hot air balloon ride was cancelled, he had to quickly improvise. He suggested we take a walk around our neighborhood; it was a beautiful fall day and it’s something we do often. I took us two blocks out of the way from his planned destination to look at a house I love, unknowingly prolonging his nervousness. We ended up in a tree-lined area of Kirkwood Park, where he got down on one knee and popped the question.
Together We Like To: Entertain—we’re considered the party-planners in our group because we’re always bringing everyone together.
Our Song: “Everything” by Michael Bublé.
In the Future: Since we are both raised in St. Louis, we’re looking to move away in a few years, possibly heading west to San Diego. However, we will return to St. Louis to raise our family.
The Big Day: May 10, 2014, at the World’s Fair Pavilion, with a reception at The Palladium.
Sara Jane Ahearn, 30 & Richard Panson, 27
Occupations: I work as an executive chef at The Courses at Forest Park, and Sara Jane works as an assistant catering manager at the St. Louis Zoo.
First Sight: It was truly love at first sight for us. We were at work and I saw her approach me, and in that very instant, I knew I was in love.
First Date: We had dinner at Niche for New Year’s Eve 2009. Next, we went to the St. Louis Symphony, followed by a midnight champagne toast at home with Sara Jane’s new goldendoodle puppy, Lola Jane. We’ve been together now for three years.
The Proposal: I proposed on New Year’s Eve on the stage of Powell Hall, which is one of our favorite places in St. Louis—and the site of our first date. It was the perfect atmosphere with the fabulous music, holiday lights and fireworks at midnight. We even had a suite at Hotel Ignacio for the evening.
Together We Like To: Cook, eat and not go to the gym! But seriously, we absolutely love to travel.
Believe it or not: We like to cure our own corned beef at home. It’s a two-week process, so you never know when we might be corning!
Ideal Date Night: We love putting on the ritz and trying something new.
Our relationship in three words: Nerdy, fun and sweet.
The Big Day: January 11, 2014, at St. Francis Xavier College Church.
Rachel Zuccarello & Ben Weis
Photo credit: Zuccarelly-Weis photo by Nancy Phelps Photography; Ahearn-Panson photo courtesy of the couple.