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Love and PRs: Running-Themed Weddings on the Rise

More and more couples are incorporating their love of running into their wedding ceremonies.

When Ohio residents Thailyr Scrivner and Peter Jaegersen first met, it was for a 4 a.m. trail run. A mutual friend had suggested to Scrivner, who wanted to get into ultrarunning, that she talk to Jaegersen. The two strangers agreed to meet at a park in the dark before work.

“The sensible part of me should have been like, ‘nope, that’s creepy,’ but the runner part of me thought, ‘yeah, that’s normal,’” Scrivner says.

What followed was a courtship of muddy ultras and trail runs before they officially started dating—Scrivner recalls how all those long runs were kind of like speed dating. From there, the adventures only got crazier. They did 100-mile races and the 24-hour World’s Toughest Mudder. If they weren’t finishing the race hand-in-hand, then they were crewing for each other.

It seems only inevitable, then, that they got engaged at the finish line of the Keys 100. And when they announced to their friends and family that the wedding would involve trail running too, “No one was surprised,” Scrivner says.

With the help of a local race organizer, the two essentially planned a 10K/5K race, open to the public, with a wedding ceremony about a mile into the course. Everyone ran the course (except the elderly relatives who walked to the ceremony site down a fire road), stopped to watch the wedding ceremony, and then finished the race. Then they all went to the local running store for a post-race/wedding celebration.

“I don’t know if [my mom] was quite sure if it counted as a wedding,” Jaegersen says.

While most people might not make their wedding guests join them for a run, more and more runners are looking to incorporate their interests into their wedding. Partially it’s because there’s been a trend in recent years (as the wedding industry has exploded) for people looking to add their own unique or personal touches to their weddings, says Jessica Janik, owner of the wedding planning company The Invisible Bridesmaid. But also running is an integral part of a lot of couple’s origin stories.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people have been meeting that way,” Janik says.

Cassie Celestain met her husband, Ryan, while they were standing around waiting for results after the Tulsa Run 15K in 2010. They started talking and kept talking during the awards ceremony. A few days later, they friended each other on Facebook and decided to meet up.

“Our first date was a run,” she says.

When they got engaged later that year, they both knew they wanted to go back to the race they had met at. So one year after they met, they ran the Tulsa Run again the morning of their wedding and crossed the line wearing a veil and bow tie. Then they had a relatively traditional wedding, but with a running theme: shoes for decorations, a starting and finish line banner at the church and reception, and post-race-style food (Gatorade and bananas).

“We wanted to have a wedding that represented us,” Celestain explains.

Janik, who has also done a wedding for a client who wanted running-themed touches, says there’s lots of little details that can be fun to incorporate: photo shoots in running clothes, tables named after races you did together, bibs as invitations or table cards, fuel belts as favors with energy gels as the night goes on, running pictures in the guest book, finish and start line banners or mile markers as decorations.

It’s hard to pin down exactly how many running-themed weddings and proposals there are, but it appears to be on the rise, as people look for new ways to meet romantic partners with similar interests and to celebrate those interests.

There are running singles websites and running matchmaking races, like the Love Me Run 5K, which takes a twist on speed dating. You run each 1K loop of the 5K course with a new partner you’re matched with. Or, try the Luv Run, which uses color-coded bibs to let you know who’s interested and who’s not. Even big companies are getting in on the run fun. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon has a run-through wedding chapel on course, which attracted 45 couples to tie the knot last year (and another 144 to renew their vows). Ironman offers a VIP wedding proposal package, and you can buy a Oiselle runaway bride dress to get all this done in—which Scrivner wore for her race/wedding.

“It’s less of a theme than it is a lifestyle,” Jaegersen says.