A memorable moment in class leads to faculty member officiating former students' wedding

A spur-of-the-moment remark from the instructor about a shared apple during a GVSU ethics class lecture is a vivid reminder to Mason and Hannah Tetzlaff of where their connection first took root. 

After their friendship blossomed into a romance and then an engagement, the couple knew who they wanted to officiate their July 29 wedding ceremony: the instructor of that ethics class, Jeffrey Byrnes, associate professor of philosophy.

Byrnes agreed, becoming ordained for the occasion.

The Fruitport couple who first met in that class nearly nine years ago said they were thrilled with how Byrnes led the ceremony, weaving together their personal story and even some thoughts of how the tenets of ethics applied to their journey.

Three people stand while posing for a photo. One is wearing a bridal dress and gown while holding flowers.
Jeffrey Byrnes, center, stands with Hannah and Mason Tetzlaff. The couple met in a class taught by Byrnes.
Image credit - Courtesy of Faith Elizabeth Photography

Now, about that apple.

Hannah and Mason had started to regularly sit together, and Hannah started bringing snacks to share with Mason for the 9 a.m. class. One day, that sharing took another step when Hannah was planning to throw away a half-eaten apple and Mason asked if he could finish it.

Byrnes, who was lecturing, had seen Hannah bite into the apple. He turned to write some things on the board and when he turned back around, he realized the only person eating an apple at that point was Mason. Byrnes found himself saying aloud, "Wait, are you finishing her apple?"

That light, yet formative, moment in their relationship has been a fond memory for the couple; Byrnes told them he also vividly remembered it. Hannah, '18, and a channel marketing manager for Chegg, an educational support services company, said having Byrnes officiate their ceremony felt like a full-circle moment that also delighted those at the wedding.

"I think it was a really unique way of including that part of our story," Hannah said. "To have someone (officiate) who was so meaningful and a core part of our story was a unique touch that really represented us that day."

Added Mason, who runs the Backyard Body Shop: "He went above and beyond anything we possibly could have wanted. I don't think we could have picked a better person."

Byrnes expressed during the wedding how the subject matter of the class where the couple met and their journey are intertwined.

"Perhaps, to some people an ethics class is a strange place to start a relationship," Byrnes said. "Yet, ethics is a subject about how to live a good life, and no life is good without a deep love and care for another person, the kind of love and care that makes you into a better version of yourself. It seems to me that Hannah and Mason got exactly what they should have from that class."

Two people kiss in front of a pergola.

Photo courtesy of Faith Elizabeth Photography


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