The framing department in an IKEA store isn’t where one would typically go looking to find love, but that’s exactly what happened for one Newark, N.J., couple eight years ago. And on June 8, that’s exactly where they returned to tie the knot.
Shirley and Berkely Smith, both 46, always agreed if they were ever to get married, it would be in the Elizabeth, N.J., IKEA store where they first laid eyes on each other.
“My daughter had gotten suspended from school so we were in there doing some shopping,” Shirley Smith told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “He was in there. I saw him right when he came in, and I checked his finger to make sure he wasn’t married. I followed him for about an hour.”
Shirley Smith’s daughter, Jashirele Stewart, who was only 14 at the time, saw how smitten her mom was with the mystery man, and asked if she wanted her to get his number so the two could connect.
The mother reluctantly agreed, hiding in embarrassment as her daughter approached Berkely.
“He said to her, ‘I don’t give my number to little kids,’ so she brought him over to me,” Shirley Smith said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God. I’m going to have a heart attack.’ But we’ve been best friends ever since.”
After Berkely Smith proposed to Shirley and the couple began planning their big day, they knew they’d have to get IKEA’s permission to return to the framing department for the nuptials.
“I called and explained we wanted it to be just him and I in that section, and just take a picture and that’s it,” said Shirley. “I didn’t want to distract the customers or cause a big fuss, but they said they’ll do it even better.”
When they arrived to the store at 9 a.m., the Smiths, along with the rest of their closest family and friends, were greeted at the front door and told the ceremony space wasn’t quite ready for them yet, so the bride and groom-to-be sat down and enjoyed breakfast, in the meantime.
Once everything was all set, the couple was escorted around the entire store in their suit and bridal gown, eventually being led to the exact spot they first met.
Waiting for them at the location was a big, black suitcase with the words “Just Married” written on it, with cans attached to the bottom to trail behind the couple as they walked away. Inside, was a whole heap of gifts, donated by IKEA, for the couple to enjoy because they had been such loyal customers. The bride and groom even “jumped the broom,” a popular wedding tradition, with a broom provided by the store.
“It came out to be so beautiful,” Shirley Smith said. “It was better than I ever hoped.”