Alumni Couple Said "I Do" at Buffalo Bills Game
Jordan Binggeli ’12 and Mackenzie Park ’12 won a contest for the "Halftime Wedding Experience of a Lifetime" at New Era Field.
Jordan Binggeli ’12 and Mackenzie Park ’12 shared their first date, their engagement, and their wedding vows all at the same place — the Buffalo Bills' stadium in Orchard Park, NY.
While the first took place in the stands and the second at a tailgate, the third happened right on New Era Field during halftime. The couple was wed at the 50-yard line at the sunny September 29 matchup against the New England Patriots, where retired Bills quarterback Jim Kelly walked Park onto the field and retired defensive tackle Kyle Williams officiated.
Binggeli and Park, who met at Monroe Community College in 2008 and later graduated from SUNY Brockport, rose to the top against nearly 1,400 other couples in the Bills “Halftime Wedding Experience of a Lifetime” contest.
Shortly after they met, Park asked Binggeli on their first date to a Bills game. “We are both diehard Bills fans and have been going to games ever since,” said Binggeli, a program director for the YMCA of Greater Rochester, who earned his Physical Education Teacher Certification at the College. Park, who studied recreation and leisure studies, is a resident services manager at St. Ann's Community at Chapel Oaks.
While the Penfield, NY, couple had already booked a venue for a 2020 wedding ceremony, they couldn’t ignore the countless calls and messages from friends urging them to apply for the contest.
The couple answered questions online about their story, an application that landed them among the top 10 pairs of finalists. Their touchdown came in the form of a 30-second video they submitted in the final round, in which they mapped out on whiteboards a timeline of their journey as Bills fans.
Binggeli and Park said they were both “in shock” when they discovered they had won. From there, a Bills-style wedding was in the works.
"The planning process was quite crazy," said Binggeli. "We had to keep the outcome a secret, rehearse for two hours the day before, and sort through a lot of small details, like choosing the flavor of our Bills wedding cake (marble)."
After getting ready in the Bills Fieldhouse while watching the game alongside their loved ones and some Bills legends, halftime arrived.
"At the two-minute warning, they walked me out in the tunnel, and it finally set in," remembered Park. "I heard the crowd roaring, and I just took a step back and was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is really happening. Let's do this!'"
In 2006, Park's father passed away from lung cancer. Park told the Bills marketing team his story, including his love for the Bills, and they surprised her with a custom jersey in his memory. They also recruited Kelly to walk her onto the field.
"It felt so natural," said Park. "I talked with him, and he reminded me so much of my dad."
Park gave her father's jersey a loving pat before joining her other half under their blue and red arbor, where Williams started the ceremony by announcing to the stadium that they were witnessing the first halftime wedding in the history of the National Football League (NFL).
"Mackenzie and I were so focused on each other and Kyle Williams that we didn't think about everyone in the stadium watching us, including all of the national and local media that were directly in front of the stage," said Binggeli. The couple was circled by more than 70,000 fans, including 20 of their friends and family members who received free game tickets. Hundreds of thousands more across the world were watching on screen.
While the couple and crew were allotted only 14 minutes on the field, the celebration continued with a tour of the game-day locker room, given by Williams, and a reception at the State Farm Suite — a big party with their friends, family members, and even some Bills legends. They had the opportunity to return to the field later for wedding photos.
Throughout the day, the couple had a chance to hang out with players and legends Lorenzo Alexander, Scott Chandler, Jerry Hughes, Fred Jackson, Marv Levy, Brian Moorman, Bill Polian, Jordan Poyer, Robert Royal, Lee Smith, Darryl Talley, Steve Tasker, Thurman Thomas, and Ted Washington. They also met Bills owner Kim Pegula, CBS producer Charlie Bloom, and Coach Sean McDermott.
In addition to customized wedding bands from Reeds / Jenss, which helped sponsor the event, the Bills gifted Binggeli and Park surprise Super Bowl 2020 tickets, custom bride and groom jerseys, a wedding photo album, and a 100th anniversary NFL football signed by the whole team.
"It was the best time of my life," said Park. "I felt like a queen. It was the Hail Mary, the touchdown, the icing on the cake. I am so, so, so happy and get to be with my best friend for the rest of my life."
While their epic halftime wedding has left them on a high, the newlyweds have plenty to look forward to. They're gearing up for the upcoming Super Bowl in Miami, FL, a more intimate wedding celebration on Halloween 2020, traveling, adding a dog to their family, and a lifetime of Bills games.