Aleesa Miller had a few dream locations in mind for her wedding day.
There was the wedding chapel near a hotel where her family used to vacation in Maui.
There were wineries in Temecula.
There were thoughts about the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.
Rarely did she think she would get married at Staples Center, at center ice with Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings’ mascot looking on with a bunch of family and friends in Kings jerseys.
“We did have our dream wedding,” Miller said. “We never would have been able to plan it that way, but it is a dream wedding. It was everything we asked for, everything we wanted.”
About seven weeks before her Jan. 21 wedding day at Staples Center, which happened mere hours before the Kings took on the Minnesota Wild, Aleesa, 24, and her soon-to-be husband James, 22, decided they were going to get married in a quick yet-to-be determined ceremony.
Aleesa was diagnosed with several heart conditions in 2013, and the couple, who met in 2012, had to keep pushing back their big day because of her surgeries and other health and personal issues.
At the time of her diagnosis, she said her resting heart rate was 157. The range for women aged 18-25 in average shape is 74-78.
“I didn’t know anything was wrong,” she said. “It was one of those things where the athletes would just fall over on the field and nobody knew they had a heart condition, so I actually got really lucky.”
Through it all, James stuck with her.
“We had been together about a year-and-a-half when I was first diagnosed and he never once thought about leaving,” said Aleesa, who is currently an executive assistant to former WNBA star Lisa Leslie. “He was at all my surgeries and all my doctor’s appointments. He picked up the slack where I couldn’t. Did laundry, grocery shopping and things like that.”
The two were late coming into hockey fandom, but found the Kings as a bonding point. They started to plan dates around Kings games, watching them with friends if she was feeling OK at that point, or in her hospital room when she wasn’t. The team provided a nightly distraction during the winter.
“(The Kings) kind of just fell into our laps,” she said.
James and Aleesa got in touch with the Kings to see if they could get a group of tickets for a game as sort of an after-party wedding for their guests. The plan was to have a small ceremony, eat dinner and then go to a Kings game.
But when the Kings’ ticket-sales staffer heard their story, the team decided to go further.
“He actually said, ‘No, no, no. we’ll get you private ice time if you want to do the ceremony here and we’ll arrange everything for you,’ ” Aleesa said. “It was one of those opportunities we couldn’t pass up.”
They were given two dates, Jan. 7 and Jan. 21. They took the latter, just so they could give their family and friends enough time to make plans to see them get married. A total of 96 people showed up at Staples Center that afternoon and watched the two say "I do" in the middle of an empty arena.
Aleesa and James thought the event was over after the ceremony, but they were taken to a room at Staples Center that had cake and an open bar. They also held their first dance in the room.
The location was on the way to L.A.’s dressing room and as Kings players walked past they congratulated the two. Forward Tyler Toffoli stopped in and took photos with them.
Forward Milan Lucic gave James a ‘peace’ sign.
“(Tyler) definitely didn’t have to (stop), so we’re thankful for that,” Aleesa said.
After the reception, the two watched the game with tickets they bought with their family and friends.
But not only was she grateful for the day itself, but also that the way it worked out took away the strain of wedding planning.
“I don’t think we could have had a wedding just because of how stressful they are,” she said. “I didn’t have to worry about timing, I didn’t have to worry about anything.”
S/t Fox Sports West
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