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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Touchdowns and wedding bells: Football games aren’t the only thing happening in the stadium

<p dir="ltr"><span>Eryka and Jacques LaFrance held their wedding ceremony in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017. Eryka LaFrance grew up in Gainesville and wanted to get married in a place close to her heart and childhood.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Eryka and Jacques LaFrance held their wedding ceremony in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017. Eryka LaFrance grew up in Gainesville and wanted to get married in a place close to her heart and childhood.

 

The smell of sweat, beer and hot dogs is in the air at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. So is love.

The University Athletic Association has hosted about 13 weddings in The Swamp since 2013, said Daniel Apple, the UAA assistant communications director.

“For those diehard fans, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

Eryka LaFrance, 30, and Jacques LaFrance, 31, met at church in 2012. They were friends for four months until she moved to Chicago for a WNBA internship, she said.

But their friendship changed when Jacques LaFrance told Eryka’s cousin he had feelings for her the day before she got on the plane.

Five years later, the couple held their pink-and-navy-themed wedding ceremony on Sept. 2, 2017, at the Holloway Touchdown Terrace.

“It was a day filled with love and fun celebrated in a place that has a ton of childhood memories,” Eryka LaFrance said.

Eryka LaFrance grew up in Gainesville and went to UF football games every Saturday since she was 2 years old, she said.

Costs to rent out rooms in the stadium vary based on the number of guests and the room’s features. The LaFrances’ wedding cost about $4,000, Eryka LaFrance said.

A jumbotron lit up with the words “Congratulations Eryka & Jacques.” The couple said they wanted to get a view of the whole field on their wedding day.

“I loved how beautiful the reception was and how much love there was amongst our family and friends,” Eryka LaFrance said.

UF was the matchmaker for Andrew Fleming, 31, and Kelly Fleming, 31.

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They met while working for the UAA Sports Health Department at UF in 2011.

Andrew Fleming laid eyes on his future wife for the first time when she walked in late for a staff meeting, he said. He knew he had to introduce himself to her.

In 2014, Kelly Fleming signed them up for a marathon in Minnesota.

Andrew Fleming ran the marathon holding her engagement ring and pretended to start cramping. Then, he got down on one knee.

Two years later on July 1, 2016, the couple held their wedding reception at the Evans Champions Club above the football field.

All of the nearly 200 guests gathered to take a picture in the stands posed with their hands up and cheered, Andrew Fleming said.

Surrounded by their guests, the Flemings signed off their night with a smooch.

But the party in the stadium wasn’t his favorite part, he said.

“A key part of my day was seeing her walk down the aisle,” Andrew Fleming said.

Contact McKenna Beery at mbeery@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @mckennabeery

 

Eryka and Jacques LaFrance held their wedding ceremony in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017. Eryka LaFrance grew up in Gainesville and wanted to get married in a place close to her heart and childhood.

 

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