AKRON, Ohio – For Julie Samuels and Jared Bernstein, the wedding march was a bit played out.
Instead, the couple walked down the aisle to “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme).”
The Star Wars superfans were among seven couples wed by the Akron Municipal Court on Thursday: a holiday coined by the saga’s fans as “May the Fourth” as a nod to the famous “May the force be with you” line exchanged among the lightsaber-wielding Jedi knights.
Judge Ron Cable presided over the weddings inside a local theater while the 1977 debut film “A New Hope” projected on a single screen.
“I was probably on the phone 20 minutes after I saw they were doing this,” Bernstein said. “We already knew we wanted our anniversary to be May the Fourth, so it felt like a cosmic, galactic coincidence.”
He and Samuels began dating in 2017. At the time, Samuels was living in Virginia, so their long-distance relationship began with virtual movie dates over video calls during which they watched all the “Star Wars” movies.
“It’s just something we connected about very early on,” Samuels said. “We both grew up with it and had great memories attached.”
When she returned to Ohio, they put their love for “Star Wars” on full display in their home.
“What I love about Star Wars is it lets you dream and think about what else could be out there,” Bernstein said. “They built this world that so many people care about.”
“You know, a lot of the time people aren’t so happy to be in a courtroom before a judge, but these events are always so happy and upbeat. I feel fortunate to be able to officiate such a special day,” Cable said.
While some, like Bernstein and Samuels — clothed in matching shirts with Han Solo and Princess Leia’s profession of love in the “Empire Strikes Back” (“I love you” “I know”) — were dreaming of the unique experience, many couples appearing at the theater on Thursday were in for a big surprise when they saw an archway of green and blue light sabers waiting for them at the end of the aisle.
“We didn’t know,” said Eric Kakimbekov, who intended to marry his now-wife Zhanar Makhambetova in a courthouse wedding. They were unfamiliar with the films as they exchanged rings with the opening credits rolling behind them. “What a unique ceremony. Something to remember.”
Reporter Abbey Marshall is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.