When Rebecca Switzer’s college pal told her that his new roommate would be joining them for their weekly sprint around campus, the McGill University undergrad’s knee-jerk reaction was, “He better be able to keep up.”
Once she met Wesley Marstaller in the flesh, however, everything changed.
“We ran and we ran and we ran,” says Rebecca, recalling the first time she pounded the pavement with her now husband, who was in Montreal studying finance at the time. “Eventually our friend was like, ‘Hey guys, are we going to stop or are you two just going to keep running?’”
Nine years later, the couple is still in the race, having tied the knot in February. Though such a long road inevitably includes a few speed bumps, Rebecca and Wes say there isn’t an obstacle large enough to steer their love off course.
After graduation, Wes scored a job in New York, while Rebecca moved to Toronto for work. They reunited in London, England, two years later before making a U-turn back to the Big Apple to continue their careers: he in private equity, she in marketing and digital advertising. In the city that never sleeps, Rebecca and Wes became accustomed to working well past quitting time. They maintained their relationship by spending as much quality time together as possible and making frequent trips to see his family in Maine and Utah and hers in Vancouver.
One Friday night, Rebecca found herself burning the candle at both ends when her cellphone started to buzz. It was Wes.
“His message said something like, ‘Are you going to be home soon?’ Full stop,” she recalls. “Every word was spelled out, with proper punctuation. It was weird; who bothers to put periods in a text?”
Brushing it off, Rebecca finished her work and headed home. Riding the elevator up to their loft, the last thing she expected to see when the doors slid open was flickering candlelight, a floor strewn with rose petals, and Wes on bended knee.
“It was so formal and beautiful; I was shocked,” she says. “I asked him, ‘Is this really happening?’ and he said, ‘Babe, this is happening!’ ”
“I’d known for at least a few years, probably longer, that I wanted to marry her,” Wes admits. “I proposed in our apartment because I knew she’d suspect something if we went on a trip or out to a fancy dinner.”
Handing Rebecca a sparkling loose diamond (the two visited the jeweller to design a setting together that Monday morning), he asked if she would marry him. After a resounding yes and a champagne toast, they headed out into the night to celebrate with friends.
“We knew right away we wanted our wedding to be like that: a big party with our family and friends — all the people we love,” Rebecca says.
The party took place in Whistler, at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, a gleaming new glass-and-wood museum and gallery meant to echo a First Nations longhouse. Planning from a distance, says the bride, wasn’t difficult.
“We did a mood board for every element, picked the vendors and had faith that people would show up,” she says. “For us, it was all about having a good time and trusting the people we were working with.”
What she didn’t expect was having the legendary Randy Fenoli of TV’s Say Yes to the Dress play a role in the process.
“I should have seen it coming, considering we went to Kleinfeld’s to look at wedding gowns,” she laughs. “I had my dress on when Randy walked by. He stopped in his tracks and asked me, ‘Is this your dress?’ It was just like on TV.”
Rebecca did indeed walk down the aisle in the strapless A-line Augusta Jones gown, which she describes as, “classic, timeless, comfortable and totally me.” Because their Jewish wedding would take place in winter, she borrowed a cozy fur from an old family friend — the same woman who helped host her bat mitzvah 17 years earlier.
On the morning of her wedding, Rebecca enjoyed breakfast with her bridesmaids before getting ready for photos. “There was an energy in the air that was really positive and upbeat,” she says. “No hysteria, just this palpable happiness that came with the realization of what the day meant.”
Waiting for his bride, Wes, handsome in a bespoke tuxedo, felt “incredibly excited and very happy. I had about 20 minutes standing on my own to build up to the moment, so when she arrived I was over the moon. She looked incredible.”
After a touching ceremony that included the signing of the ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) in a private candlelit room, a delicious meal catered by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and a dessert station with four types of cake, the newlyweds were ready to party.
And party they did. With her older brother presiding over the horah (an energetic Israeli folk dance), Rebecca’s dress, torn in a stampede of feet, required an SOS safety-pinning.
“People were calling it the most violent horah ever,” she laughs. “Honestly, I wasn’t upset. The whole thing was caught on camera and, looking at the pictures now, I remember thinking, ‘Oh well, I wasn’t going to wear it again anyway.’ ”
That come-what-may attitude sums up the couple’s approach to their nuptials to a tee — and will no doubt be the secret to their enduring relationship.
“Life has its ups and downs; you have to have a sense of humour in order to get through the tough parts,” says Rebecca. “Some things did go wrong at our wedding and during the planning: The song got cut off during our first dance, the custom M&M’s I’d originally ordered with ‘Rebecca & Wesley’ printed on them were too blurry to read. But to us it was perfect. Our family and friends were there, celebrating with us and having a great time, and we felt how lucky we were. It makes you realize that it’s okay when things are a bit off. Everything can’t always be tickety-boo.”
Which doesn’t make life together any less sweet for this happy couple.