It was love at first cheese sample for Ross Aronson and Jacqueline Troutman.
When the couple met in New York, spending time at Whole Foods was a part of their courtship. They’d go on romantic meanderings around the city, sometimes up to 100 blocks, stopping here and there to pick out specific ingredients for their meals, or seeking out the best samples. Couples often have favorite restaurants, the scenes of cherished moments, but grocery stores rarely get that kind of love.
“It’s such a loving thing to prepare a meal,” Jacqueline said. “I think it can seem ordinary or a chore, but for us it’s an exploration. Ross loves inventing things in the kitchen; it’s a fun way to show care and appreciation for someone.”
It only made sense then, at least to them, for Ross to propose to Jacqueline – and get married – where their love story flourished.
The couple, fairly recent transplants to North Carolina, wed Saturday at the Whole Foods in their new home of Chapel Hill.
They gathered one year to the date in the spot where Ross proposed, the flower department.
It was a serious wedding that happened to be in a fun place.
For the proposal, he had arranged a special collection of sampling stations through Whole Foods’ marketing department, some of Jacqueline’s favorites: pulled pork, cheesecake, pumpkin bread, together completing a puzzle that made a heart shaped cake.
“It was awesome,” said Jacqueline, now Aronson.
As they began planning the wedding, the glow of the proposal never faded, and Whole Foods became more than a grocery store.
“After the engagement happened, we let it simmer for a while,” Jacqueline said, pun definitely intended.
They’re into puns.
“It was really special to me, it was our place, our tradition, it was really nice to relive it every time we went,” she said. “We thought, how do we top that? It was perfect. Maybe we can match it.”
Ross, who attends UNC’s orthodontics graduate school, and Jacqueline, who works in marketing, reached back to Whole Foods to see if it was open to playing part-time wedding venue. The grocer was immediately game. From that point, Krista Deitsch and Whitney Harlos of Whole Foods helped put the big day together, with Deitsch essentially becoming their wedding planner, they said.
They kept their friends and family in the dark on the Whole Foods part of the wedding and designed the program themselves, writing their vows and filling the store with matrimony-related puns. Favorites including: “rib-eye-do,” “as long as we both shallot live,” “cheese said yes,” “dairytale wedding.”
An orthodontics classmate of Ross’ happens to be a talented violinist and performed at the ceremony, officiated by Jacqueline’s second cousin, who also is in dentistry.
The newlyweds know how a wedding in a Whole Foods sounds: playful if not silly, exchanging vows while shoppers pick out produce and coffee. But it was their moment, born from thousands of other moments in their relationship, that strung together, make grocery stores meaningful to them. It may have been in a grocery store, but it was still a wedding.
“We were saying very serious things to one another,” Ross said. “Thank God there’s no footage of it; I cried through half of it.... It was a fun, wild, unexpected experience, but shared it with people who could really appreciate we got married and said really important things to each other. It wasn’t flippant at all. It was a serious wedding that happened to be in a fun place.”
The reception was more intimate, a meal Ross prepared at their house, sourced from the place they were married. How often can you say that?
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson