Jesse Lohman and Jaime Duque kiss during their wedding reception in her parents' backyard in Santa Ana, Calif. (Big Bee Photogaphy)
Jessica Lohmann & Jaime Duque

Jessica Lohmann, 25, is a human resources specialist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Jaime Duque, 29, is a program analyst at the Labor Department. They live in Southwest Washington.

Wedding date: Dec. 22

Location: Lohmann’s parents’ back yard, Santa Ana, Calif.

Guests: 75

How they met: Lohmann and Duque met in 2009 at the University of California at Davis, at a mutual pal’s potluck. It was senior year for both of them; Duque had postponed college to spend four years in the Marines. They ended the evening playing beer pong with friends at Duque’s apartment and bonded over sports. Lohmann says he won her over when he bought tickets to see her beloved Anaheim Ducks play hockey against San Jose. They landed jobs in the District after college and moved in together five months later.

The proposal: On May 1, 2012, Duque told Lohmann he was going to work from home that day. While she was out, he filled the house with dozens of roses and balloons. When Lohmann returned, Duque was wearing a suit and on one knee to propose. They celebrated with champagne and went to dinner at her favorite restaurant, Rasika.

The wedding: To relieve the stress of planning a formal affair, with their parents’ blessing, they turned their engagement party into the wedding. They greeted surprised guests in formal attire and announced the change. Lohmann credits her wedding planner friend for arrangements, including hiring a chef to grill tacos, decorating the yard with lights and creating the relaxed atmosphere the couple wanted. One of the most memorable moments for Lohmann was seeing her grandparents dance. As guests left, they filled takeout boxes with purple and white candy that matched the couple’s color scheme.

The honeymoon: They stayed at a bed and breakfast in Dana Point, Calif., but are planning a longer vacation to Thailand.

Janet Bennett Kelly