Nov. 10, 2013 at 9:04 AM ET
The first thing Anthony Parmenter noticed about Melissa Meyers was her beautiful red hair.
The two met in high school when he was a junior and she was a freshman.
“I was intimidated because he was older,” said Melissa, 23, a second lieutenant in the New Jersey Army National Guard. “I was afraid to talk to him. But he didn’t give me a choice! He’s very up-front.”
Getting to the altar wasn’t so simple: What seemed like a straightforward story of high school sweethearts turned into a romance that spanned eight years and hundreds of miles.
When Anthony graduated high school, he enlisted in the Marines and went off to boot camp in California and Oklahoma. Melissa remained in their hometown of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., to finish up school.
“When he was in training and we couldn’t talk, I wrote a letter every single day,” Melissa said. Anthony wrote every day, too.
When Anthony finished his service, Melissa decided to attend The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina — 700 miles away from home, and away from Anthony. When Melissa was back for Christmas break during her senior year, Anthony asked the question that had been years in the making.
“I put a ring in a box, in a bigger box, in bigger box, into the biggest box which was about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide,” said Anthony, 25, a sergeant in the New Jersey Marine Corps Reserve. “I made her unwrap every one until she got to the ring.” Then he asked her to marry him.
The two were married on June 15th of this year at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, with 100 guests in attendance. Melissa wore a cream lace gown to complement Anthony’s dress blue uniform and a retired U.S. Army Chaplain performed the outdoor ceremony.
As members of the military, it was important to them that their special day reflected their service. “It’s bringing an important aspect of your life into a really important day. It’s something you really honor and value,” Melissa said.
The reception was a Pinterest-lover's dream: chalkboard signs, hand-written seating cards attached to tiny keys, a cupcake tower, and even custom lapel pins. “I did everything myself,” Melissa said. “I looked on Etsy, Pinterest, some Facebook pages.”
Now that they've moved in together, the newlyweds are happy to finally to be back in N.J. — in the same zip code and time zone.
“My advice for people currently planning their wedding is to have fun," Melissa said. "By the time the day comes, everything will fall into place and everything will be perfect."