INDIANAPOLIS – Getting married at the airport may not be the first choice of a venue for many. One Fort Wayne couple, though, said they could not think of getting married anywhere else.
“Doesn’t everybody (meet on a plane)?” Stephani Hamilton said with a chuckle.
In 2019, the destination was New England for both Stephani and Jeff Hamilton. Separately, they boarded Southwest Flight 2218 from Indianapolis to Boston as complete strangers.
Stephani was living in Indiana at the time, while Jeff was in the area visiting his daughters.
“He was on his way back from a weekend visit with his daughters and I was on my way out for just a very quick — I think I was only out there for maybe 72 hours trip out to New England,” Stephani said. It was her first time going to New England, but Jeff grew up there and lived there at the time.
Near the back of the plane, Stephani recalled she sat in the window seat. Jeff chimed in adding not only was it unlike him to board late, but he usually sat in the front of the plane. But as fate had it, one of the only remaining seats Jeff could take on the Boston-bound Southwest flight was the middle seat next to his future bride.
“She’s sitting in the window seat and she’s taking her headphones and she was right about here — And I asked her, ‘So what are you doing going on Boston for?’ “ Jeff said with a smile.
For the entire flight and shuttle to the rental lot — the two talked nonstop.
“We were that super annoying couple that just talked for three hours on an airplane, so I’m sure everyone sitting around us was like, would they please be quiet?” Stephani said.
Literally hours after getting off the plane, the two were off on their first date.
“We talked all through dinner. Sat and talk some more. Until finally one of the servers came up and said, ‘We closed an hour ago,’” Jeff said.
Stephani added with a laugh, “ ‘Can you guys get out?’ “
Jeff said, “ ‘Is there any way, you guys could go? We didn’t want to interrupt. It looks like you guys were deep in conversation.’ We’re like, ‘Yep, sorry.’ “
Four years later, the Hamiltons made their love story official. In July, the couple swapped vows in the place that brought them together – Indianapolis International Airport.
“It just felt right to do it at the airport because that has great symbolism to us,” Stephani said.
Southwest even made them a wedding cake and upgraded the newlyweds, so they could board first just two hours later on their honeymoon flight. If you guessed it, the two were going back to New England.
Jeff said TSA pre-check made the quick turnaround possible.
WRTV reporter Nikki DeMentri asked the couple, “Was it love at first sit?”
Jeff responded first: “I say yes, she said it was not.”
Stephani added, “I say it was very good conversation and there was clearly an instant chemistry and connection.”
The two eloped the day between their birthdays in mid-July.
“While we didn’t have one of those really bizarre meetings at the airport, where we bumped into each other in one place, and then ended up sitting next to each other on the plane, like in the movies — We still were sitting on a plane that was at that airport. It just felt right and it all came together really well and it went off without a hiccup,” Stephani said.
Without question, love certainly is in the air at IND. The Hamiltons add it is when you least expect it, you find your soulmate.
They have matching tattoos with the flight number from that first flight as a reminder of their love story.
“I didn’t get on a plane looking for anything. Quite yet, here I am, and I knew before I got off that plane,” Jeff said.