San Diego

‘I Gotta Get There': San Diego Couple Meets President Obama at Their Wedding

"Honestly, I'm normally a pretty shy person, but man, yesterday, for the wedding day and in that moment, I didn't care about anything" others would think, Stephanie said.

A San Diego couple getting married at one of the United States' most storied golf courses had the surprise of their lives when they stumbled upon the nation's president. 

Brian and Stephanie Tobe were at The Lodge at Torrey Pines Sunday morning getting ready for their wedding when they first got word President Obama was in the area, playing golf.

When the two woke up that morning, they had heard rumors that the president would be at the same San Diego golf course as their wedding was taking place, but didn't think much of it. 

It was only around noon, when they were at The Lodge getting ready, that they heard the president was on the course. 

"We're stacked up against the window, looking out as we see him coming down across the green," Stephanie said, recalling how they watched the president head to the 18th hole.

The couple's wedding ceremony was set for 4:30 p.m. at a spot right above the 18th hole, Stephanie said. Their photographers, Erin and Jeff Youngren, had been trying to see if the couple could get closer. 

Stephanie and Brian were in their respective rooms, putting the final touches on their respective wedding outfits, when their photographers, who had been talking to each other over handhelds about the commander-in-chief, spotted the president coming nearby

They saw he was shaking hands and decided this would be the couple's only chance to meet him. Erin barged into the room and said, "this is our chance."

Stephanie said she didn't hesitate.

"I picked up my wedding dress and just started running down the hall," Stephanie said. 

She started sprinting, rushing to get into the elevator and down to the ground floor, where she took off across the lawn, her soon-to-be-husband rushing behind her. 

"Our friends are yelling and screaming the moment we come out onto the grass," Stephanie said.

As she ran, only one thing was going through her mind: "I gotta get there." 

"I darted ahead, I didn't care," said Stephanie, who recalled running ahead of her soon-to-be-husband. "I just had to get there."

The couple ran down the lawn to a large crowd that had gathered near the president. When the couple got closer, Stephanie said, the crowd "parted like the red sea" and let them get up front. The photographers and couple were checked by security before they approached the president. 

"Honestly, I'm normally a pretty shy person, but man, yesterday, for the wedding day and in that moment, I didn't care about anything" others would think, Stephanie said. 

As she got closer, Stephanie said she started to feel the overwhelming emotion of the day sneak up on her.

"When I was running up to him, I just started crying," said Stephanie. "I was in a state of complete shock."

The couple met the president, shook his hand and took a couple of photos with him. 

"It was just really nice, just totally unexpected," Stephanie said. "I never thought we'd have a chance in the world to meet him."

Though the talk was brief, Brian, a doctor at the VA in San Diego, said he talked to the president about his work at the hospital and their shared connection to the University of Chicago. Obama was friendly and a good listener, Stephanie recalled. 

"He specifically told my husband Brian not to step on my dress," said Stephanie, laughing at the memory. Her wedding dress included a long lace train.  

Earlier that day, the couple had discussed whether they would want their friends to see them before the ceremony in their respective dress and suit. 

"It was a little bit of a decision, because Stephanie was in a wedding dress, and normally you see the bride when she first walks down the aisle...We had to decide if we wanted to break conformity," Brian said. 

The decision-making process was not a long one for the couple. 

"At one point, Stephanie decided she wanted to go down and meet the president," Brian said. 

Brian said he was happy to follow his bride down the hall and out of the building to meet the president. 

"I was just happy that she was happy," he said. "I was just running as fast as I could." 

Stephanie's Aunt Judy, who would be officiating the wedding, even asked the president if he would like to take on her role and officiate the wedding, to which the president jokingly replied that Judy looked like she could handle it. 

The wedding was delayed less than an hour for the whole affair, the couple said, and meeting the president even took the edge off the rest of the wedding. 

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