Ben Weil & Jen Buffa’s wedding

This entry falls squarely into the “random/offseason” category, but bear with me. I think you’ll enjoy it for several reasons:

1) Ben Weil is The Man. If you don’t already know who he is, you should. He’s one of my best friends, and he’s also a talented ballhawk. Here’s a huge blog entry I wrote about him several years ago.

2) There were some baseball-y elements in the wedding. It wasn’t officially “baseball-themed” per se, but whatever. You’ll see.

3) When else will you get to see photos of me in a suit and tie?

Anyway, let’s get to it . . .

The wedding took place in Long Island City (which, for those who don’t know, is in Queens). The neighborhood was filled with warehouses and industrial-type businesses — not an ideal place, you might think, for such a monumental event — but tucked in the middle of it all was a glorious venue with a cute sign on the outside:

1_building_exterior

I should mention that Ben was marrying his girlfriend, Jen Buffa, whom I also adore. They’re both so warm and fun and loving — not just to each other, but to everyone.

As for me . . . here’s a selfie:

10_zack_selfie

Where was my tie?
Good question.

That photo was taken early in the afternoon, long before the ceremony got underway. Ben had asked me to be a groomsman and said that he was going to provide the ties. He had also asked all the groomsmen to wear funny socks, in honor of a friend who couldn’t be there. Check it out:

15_funny_socks_as_requested_by_ben

Meanwhile, take a look at Ben:

21_ben_greeting_some_family

That’s him in the orange shirt, greeting some family members. But don’t judge him yet. It was HIS day. If he wanted to show up looking like a bum, then whatever.

Here he is, 20 minutes later, partially dressed for the wedding, handing out gift bags to all the groomsmen:

25_ben_giving_out_gift_bags

Each bag contained peanuts and cracker jacks . . .

27_peanuts_and_cracker_jacks

. . . along with a very special card:

28_gift_card_for_the_event_of_my_choice

In case you can’t read it, it says: “I’m taking you to the event of your choice! A game, a show, a concert . . . you pick the date! Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.”

The first thing I said to him was: “2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati — oooh yeah!!”

“That’s fine,” he said jovially.

“No, no,” I assured him. “I won’t make you take me to THAT.”

“If that’s what game you want,” he said with absolute sincerity, “I’ll make it happen.”

It might be too early to make such a bold prediction, but I do think that Ben and I will end up at the All-Star Game next season.

Now, about those ties — here’s one of them on a groomsman named Tom:

32_tom_and_his_garfield_tie

Do you recall Ben’s obsession with Garfield from the original entry I wrote about him? Well, this was the latest manifestation. Ben gave each of the groomsmen a different Garfield tie — and Jen was okay with it. THAT is true love.

Ben didn’t wear anything Garfield-related (although he does have a Garfield tattoo on his left shoulder), and he looked sharp. Here he is leading a round of shots:

33_ben_leading_a_round_of_shots

After that, each of the groomsmen posed individually with Ben for the official photographer. Here I am with him:

35_zack_official_photo_with_ben

While the other groomsmen had their photos taken, I admired the view of Manhattan:

40_the_view

Then there was a group photo:

43_groomsmen_group_photo

Here’s a closeup of several of the Garfield ties — mine (which featured little Garfield baseball cards) is on the left:

44_garfield_ties_closeup

Then I was instructed to wear this:

46_zack_with_mike_piazza_jersey

Each groomsman received one.

Yes, that’s right. At this classy wedding which was about to begin . . .

53_people_starting_to_sit_down

. . . Ben had all the groomsmen wear matching Mike Piazza jerseys. Here we are standing around in them, waiting for our moment to shine:

56_groomsmen_standing_around

Ben is such a nutjob, and Jen is so wonderful for embracing it. I’ve always felt that if you have to give up something meaningful in a relationship, then it’s not an ideal relationship. People often ask me if I’ll stop going to so many baseball games when I’m married, and I’m like . . . WHAT?! Why the hell would I marry someone who makes me give up what I love? It’s such a preposterous, widely-accepted concept, so it was great to be at this wedding. Tradition calls for the groomsmen to wear tuxedos? No woman would allow sports jerseys to taint her wedding day? Umm, how about screw you. So awesome.

Here’s Jen looking glorious:

60_jen_looking_glorious2

Sorry for the blurriness of that photo, but dammit, the woman wouldn’t stand still.

Here’s a photo of the groomsmen and bridesmaids waiting in the wings, just before the ceremony got underway:

62_bridal_party_waiting_off_to_the_side

Here are the bridesmaids during the wedding, photographed by my girlfriend, Hayley:

69_bridesmaids_during_the_wedding

Here are the groomsmen, photographed by Greg Barasch:

70_zack_standing_with_groomsmen

And from the Why-The-Heck-Not Department, here’s a little kid holding a baseball:

72_little_kid_with_baseball

When Jen’s father walked her down the aisle, Ben got rather emotional:

73_jen_walking_ben_crying

In fact, he sobbed so hard that it made just about everyone else in the room cry too — myself included.

Here’s what my view looked like during the ceremony:

80_my_view_during_the_ceremony

It might have been inappropriate for me to pull out my camera, but whatever, I’m sure that only a few dozen people noticed. And c’mon, is ANYthing inappropriate when you’re wearing a Mike Piazza jersey?

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony took place after Ben and Jen exchanged their vows. Unbeknownst to him, she had emailed *all* of the guests weeks in advance with detailed instructions for a “Seasons Of Love” flash-mob/sing-along. That’s one of his favorite songs (from the Broadway musical “Rent“), and she went so far as to hire male and female soloists for two of the verses. Ben was fist-pumpingly overjoyed.

After the ceremony, the bridal party retreated to a special room for a bunch of group photos. Here’s my favorite:

88_ben_surrounded_by_ladies

Here’s my second-favorite:

89_zack_jen_ben_selfie

I love them. I really do.

By the time we all returned to the main area, the dinner tables were set up beautifully:

91_tables_set_up_for_dinner

At that point, my commitment to Garfield and Mike Piazza seemed to be over, prompting Hayley to commandeer the fashion show. She had brought a black tie for me to change into. This was the result:

92_zack_looking_snazzy_thanks_to_a_black_tie_that_hayley_brought

Snazzy! And weird. I’m not used to seeing myself in a suit and tie. I can’t even remember the last time I dressed like that, although there IS photographic evidence of it happening at least once . . . way back in 2001. Check it out. How cringe-y is THAT?

Before dinner started, Jen and Ben enjoyed their first dance as a married couple:

97_jen_and_ben_dancing

D’awww!!

Later in the evening, I got a photo with Ballhawk of the Year Greg Barasch:

110_zack_and_greg_barasch

Then he took one of me and Hayley:

114_zack_and_hayley

One of the main attractions at the wedding was a photo booth. Here are some guests getting silly with props:

119_guests_in_photo_booth

Hayley and I took a more conventional approach:

121_zack_and_hayley_photo_booth

Isn’t that a great date for a wedding?

12-13-14

(Hayley is also a great date.)

It also happened to be Taylor Swift’s birthday — no coincidence there, as Ben and Jen both love her.

You know what else was happening that weekend? SantaCon. Look what Greg changed into before heading off to get rowdy:

132_ben_greg_penguin_suit

If you can’t tell, that’s a penguin suit.

Let’s talk about party favors for a minute, shall we? First have a look, and then I’ll explain:

133_hope_you_had_a_ball

Each of those boxes contained a baseball and a card:

134_peeking_inside_a_box

The card featured a photo of Ben and Jen that I had taken two years ago at Citi Field:

135_the_card

It also had a baseball with heart-shaped stitches:

136_baseball_with_heart_stitches

Here’s what the inside of the card said:

137_writing_on_the_card

As you can see, Ben had snagged all of those baseballs at major league games, and he’d written the details about each one on the cards.

Wow.

Here’s a photo of Ben and Jen cutting the cake (which had Garfield figurines on top):

139_ben_and_jen_cutting_the_cake

While that was being prepared for all the guests, I was delighted to see dessert hors d’oeuvres being passed around:

142_dessert_hors_doeuvres

Those were “hot chocolate shots” with chocolate chip cookies — such a great idea and so delicious. All the food throughout the day was outstanding.

Finally, there was also a Taylor Swift cake:

146_taylor_swift_cake

It really WAS her birthday. December 13th. Go look at her Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.

What a great event.
So glad to be a part of it.
Congrats to Ben and Jen.

***UPDATE***
Several days after the wedding, Ben tweeted a photo of the groomsmen at Mike Piazza:

piazza_tweet1

And guess what?! Piazza answered him!

piazza_tweet2

Now, if only we could get Taylor Swift to tweet at Ben . . .

24 comments

  1. TC

    http://m.mlb.com/video/v20092067 [or just google piazza 400th padres mlb] did i copy and paste right? cool pics thanx for sharing TC heres my piazza 400th career homer miss flew in and out of my glove was that a bird cage in that one pic? Ben bring Garfield cat ? saw his mom in pics .she looks happy for him, wasnt citi field open for rental?wedding there be cool ..they moving out of queens?

  2. Zack Hample

    DENNIS-
    Thanks for reading this entry.

    BARRY-
    Well said.

    TC-
    Ouch. Yeah, the link works. That really sucks to have missed the ball. Believe me, I feel your pain. I have no idea if Bennifer looked into a Citi Field wedding. Maybe I can nudge him to leave a comment here and respond to everyone.

    GREG-
    Thanks. It was awesome seeing you there. Friendly faces are a good thing at events of this magnitude.

  3. Liz Merry

    Congratulations Bennifer! What a thoughtful, joyous wedding! I have the black Piazza road jersey (says New York on the front instead of Mets,) so I would have fit right in. How amazing to give all those balls out, each with its story and wishes for joy to the recipient. I cannot imagine the amount of planning to execute this event so perfectly. Now the Big Question. Does the jersey and ball collection stay at Mom’s? Or do they sell it to finance a swanky Park Ave. condo?

  4. Ben Weil

    Dennis – Thanks!

    Barry Wendell – Me too!

    T.C. – I think I wish you had caught that homer as much as you do! We’re staying in Queens… for now.

    Greg – You better have been a part of it! So glad you had that costume, I LOVED it!!!

    Liz – As immense as the collection is, it could probably only afford 2 months on park ave! Thanks!

  5. Ray Burton

    Cool ceremony. Looks like fun all round. I llove the unconventional wedding. It is more personal. Best of luck in the future Ben. Zack , what , no more food photos. An opportunity wasted.

  6. Ben Weil

    Demetrius – About 160.

    Ray – Thanks! I’m actually on my way to your side of the world now! I’ll be in Sydney for new years, and Cairns after that!

  7. Zack Hample

    BEN WEIL-
    Thanks for jumping in here and answering people. Given how busy you are, it’s extra special to be hearing from you. Send me a photo from Australia if you think of it.

    DEMETRIUS-
    Thanks, glad you liked it.

    RAY BURTON-
    Yeah yeah, I know. I certainly took lots of food pics but ultimately just went with the dessert hors d’oeuvres on the blog.

  8. Hayley

    I made the mistake of clicking on the proposal video aaaaand now I’m crying all over again. I love you guys and hope you’re having a kick-ass time on your honeymoon.

  9. jvfuentes

    What a beautiful and personal wedding ceremony! Congratulations to Ben and Jen! I agree with Ray, unconventional and light-hearted is best!!! Best wishes to the newly wedded couple for many happy years to come!!!

  10. Ben Weil

    Hayley – You are too sweet. Sorry :-)

    Ray – it’s not, but as a travel agent for flight centre, I had to go big!

    Jvfuentes – Thanks!!!

  11. Big Glove Bob AKA Long Relief

    Wow! I had a good time reading this entry. I have never met Ben and I still like him. Seems like a great guy that met a great girl. I liked all the baseball touches. The world needs more people like this.

    Big Glove Bob

  12. Ben Weil

    Zack – She sends her love as well :-)

    Big Glove – Definitely thanks for the kind words. I suspect we will meet some day as well! Minnesota is one of my favorite ballparks, so I don’t think it’ll be too long till I’m back there. Plus, with the Vikings getting a new stadium, I *have to* go there!

  13. bloggingboutbaseball

    Great photodocumenting, Z. I’m such a softy for weddings and this one looks like tons of fun. Congrats to Ben and Jen. I bet Benny Bang Bang will read this… my best wishes to them both.

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