Maid of Honor: Deva Estin
Deva and I have known each other since preschool. When Deva moved to Iowa after 5th grade, I would never have predicted that our friendship would grow and strengthen despite the distance. Some of this result was due to luck but most of it was due to qualities such as kindness, loyalty, and confidence (and a willingness to talk on the phone), possessed by Deva in abundance. Every summer when her (amazing) family visited Boulder, Deva would call me up and we would spend an afternoon or two together. When I went to college in Iowa, we had more opportunities to see each other over Thanksgiving and other breaks. By a stroke of luck, we discovered that we were both going to Santiago, Chile, to study abroad in the fall of 2009. Exploring an unfamiliar country with an outgoing and caring friend with excellent language skills made my experience so much richer! I’m also so grateful that Deva was there for me when I learned that Nana, my grandmother, passed away a few weeks before I was to return to the US. Now that we live only a bus ride away, I’m so happy that we’ve been able to maintain a quasi-regular visiting schedule! Deva taught me that meaningful, long-distance friendships are possible, they just require a bit effort. This lesson has become very important to me as the friends I’ve made in high school, college, and beyond have scattered across the country. Deva is not only my oldest friend, she is the most considerate and loving friend I could hope for and I’m so happy that she will be standing up for me at our wedding.
Best Man: Skylar Stephens
My first experience with Skylar was way back in 5th grade at the Webb School of Knoxville. We were randomly paired to room together for the class trip to Washington DC. At the time, I wasn't sure what this more-than-slightly obsessive compulsive kid's deal was, but clearly I grew to appreciate it. Through our years in middle and high school we spent hours on the lake, in the basement playing games, mastering ping-pong, dining at the OR's famous Magic Wok, and even building two trebuchets. Later on in high-school, he had the privilege and curse of being able to drive a year before me, and so we spent many great miles in his '96 Honda Prelude, and also a few short miles in my mom's car before Skylar got his first speeding ticket just a week after turning 16. I had such a great experience with Skylar back then, I even bought a '96 Prelude of my own just a few months ago. We shared countless formative experiences together over the years, and I have no doubt that Skylar had a profound positive impact on me, even more so than preventing his mom from sending me to detention in 8th grade. We became best friends back in grade-school, and I'm honored to have him as my best man this summer.
Bridesmaid: Ellie Karr
As an only child, I always loved having cousins to play with around the holidays and on family vacations. Visiting in Minnesota was always an experience for me—everyone was happy and playing one moment, then crying and fighting the next. One summer we spent some time together at my grandparents’ house. I’m not sure how the fight happened, but one day I ended up crying and pouting in a tree, convinced that Nana loved Ellie more. Thinking back, this experience taught me that 1) I can be very immature occasionally and 2) it is possible to share love without diminishing it for either person. My time with Ellie is probably the closest I’ve gotten to the experience of having a sibling, and for that I am very grateful. I’m also so happy for Ellie and Brandon, who are getting married about a month before Matt and me. They are wonderful together! I’m glad that I have a person to share in the trials and tribulations—oh yes, and joys—of planning a wedding.
Bridesmaid: Grace Marengo-Sanchez
Grace and I met the summer before our senior year at Grinnell. I needed a place to stay for the summer and she and Virginia Andersen needed a roommate. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this would be a fateful arrangement because I not only would I get to know Matt through Grace and Thomas (Matt’s roommate for the summer) but I would also make a wonderful new friend. Ironically, I did not have the best first impression of Grace—I think she was late to our first meeting and I thought that she was too disorganized. However, these thoughts were quickly set aside as I learned how loving, fun and thoughtful she is. Grace is just an amazing friend who always wants to do something fun but is always there for girl talk or a good cry. That summer we built the foundation for an amazing senior year with a wonderful group of friends and I’m so happy that Grace and Thomas will be standing up for me and Matt.
Groomsman: Nilesh Wickramanayake
Nilesh and I met during many of our shared science classes early in our years at Grinnell College. It was mostly through him that I would come to meet many of those who would become my closest friends at Grinnell. Nilesh has always been a great friend, and we battled together through all of those classes as well as our many escapades outside of class. We spent many hours in those dorm rooms and hallways on Gates 3rd, and later on Clark 3rd during our time in Iowa, and made several unforgettable trips together down to Knoxville, Florida, and Ohio. While he was thousands of miles and a few oceans away, via GChat Nilesh was the first person I ever told about my interest in Emily, well before we even started dating. So I think it's fitting that he witness the next milestone in our relationship as my groomsman.
Groomsman: Thomas Davis
Thomas was abroad in Egypt when I became close friends with his roommate, Nilesh, and his (now) wife, Grace. Thus, without much choice on his part, we became friends when he returned to Iowa. We quickly became close friends that year, and soon decided to get an apartment together for a legendary Grinnell Summer. This turned out to be one of the most important summers of my life, because of a girl also working in the lab that summer named Emily Jobe. Lest fate be too subtle, my roommate, Thomas, was dating Grace (now his wife), and Grace happened to share an apartment with Emily. Through this Thomas/Grace connection, the four of us spent that summer solidifying relationships by way of pizza rolls, freeze pops, late night TV shows, and a few cold beers. Building upon the foundation of that summer, Thomas and I continued our great friendship through some amazing trips to Knoxville and Florida during our senior year, and also one great trip to Texas just last year for his and Grace's wedding. Even though we don't live in the same dorm or apartment anymore, Thomas and Grace will always be our original double-date partners, and we're eternally grateful that their relationship was able to kindle mine and Emily's.
Officiant: Cassie Houtz
I’m thrilled that Cassie will be leading the ceremony for me and Matt. Anyone who has met Cassie knows that she is thoughtful and intelligent person who is also filled with deep joy and love that manifests as a unique exuberance for life. I know that she will infuse our wedding with some of the same qualities. Cassie is a prime example of how first impressions are often wrong. As a generally quite person and very dutiful student, I was annoyed at this girl (Cassie) in my freshman choir that kept chattering away at every opportunity. However, this impression completely changed when we became folder partners in sophomore year and quickly recognized a kindred/complementary spirit. In class, choir, musical theater, and over many mocha frappuccinos, we built a wonderful friendship that thrived through the dramas of high school and survived the separation of college and beyond. I’m so happy that you’ve found a way to engage your intellectual and spiritual curiosity at Harvard Divinity School and I’m sure that you’ll go on to inspire, challenge and help people wherever you go. I only hope that we’ll be close (in physical proximity) one day.