When a bad guy jumps out of the cake and the groom gets hit with a Champagne bucket in the ensuing melee, not everyone will consider the wedding a success.
But fans in the arena for the Feb. 4 wedding of Penelope Ford and Kip Sabian on TNT’s “All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite” didn’t seem disturbed by the spectacle. And Ms. Ford and Mr. Sabian later reflected on the occasion fondly: “Everything was going swimmingly until our butler decided to shackle our best man to the ring so this horrible human being could pop out of the cake,” Mr. Sabian said.
Ms. Ford and Mr. Sabian, both 28, admit they weren’t completely surprised that their on-air nuptials went gonzo. “Whenever you walk out there, it’s game on,” Mr. Sabian said. “You can never be sure what’s going to happen.” That may be why the couple chose to get married legally, in a far tamer ceremony, Feb. 1 in a Pennsylvania courthouse. Though the personas they inhabit as professional wrestlers are at least somewhat concocted, their love, they say, is real.
“The first time we met I said, ‘I’m going to marry you one day,’” Mr. Sabian said. Ms. Ford had captured his interest on social media, where she started following him after a friend pointed him out on Instagram at the end of 2018, before the All Elite Wrestling company was formed. Mr. Sabian was still in his native Norfolk, England, wrestling on the independent circuit. Ms. Ford was living in the town near Philadelphia where she grew up and also wrestling independently. When both signed with AEW months later, they arranged an in-person date in April 2019 in Manhattan.
They met in Central Park; Ms. Ford played American tour guide. “I had never tasted the fine cuisine that is American fast food,” Mr. Sabian said. “She introduced me to the Chick-fil-A milk shake and it changed my life.” So did the intensity with which they connected. By the end of their first date, they agreed to spend a week together at a Jersey City, N.J., Airbnb. “I instantly felt like, ‘This is my person,’” Ms. Ford said.
Indeed, they had a lot in common: “I love video games and nerd stuff, and in my head I thought that, because she’s such a beautiful attractive woman, she wouldn’t like those things,” Mr. Sabian said. “But we were talking about anime and all this nerdy stuff,” she said. “It was love. We haven’t gotten sick of each other since.”
Whether “All Elite Wrestling” fans are as enamored with them as they are of each other is less certain. Mr. Fabian described his character, which he said is “100 percent me but with the volume turned up to 20,” as “a really narcissistic pretty boy.” Ms. Ford’s character is similar. “I’m arrogant, too,” she said.
But she is not unfeeling — something she demonstrated on April 4, 2020, when Mr. Fabian proposed in Orlando, Fla., where they were temporarily living; they have since moved back to Ms. Ford’s hometown near Philadelphia. “I cried,” she said. Instantly, she said yes.
The two weddings that transpired this month allowed them to declare their love in front of family and fans separately. Though Mr. Sabian’s parents had to watch via livestream from England because of the pandemic, Ms. Ford’s family, including her parents, siblings and a niece, were present in the Pottstown, Pa., courthouse where Judge Edward Kropp married them in a short, socially-distanced ceremony.
The televised celebration two days later was not without moments of sweetness. Before the violent eruption, and before Ms. Ford’s subsequent face plant into the cake, Mr. Sabian had the chance to recite handwritten vows. “Penelope,” he said. “From the moment I first saw you wearing that one piece with knee-high boots and your eyes met my eyes, I knew this was meant to be.”