Forget about The Bachelor – it turns out you can actually find love at basketball games thanks to Tinder instead. Three years ago, the Atlanta Hawks hosted an event called Swipe Right Night in which users on Tinder could swipe right at the game, and go to specific locations within the arena to meet their matches at Philips Arena. That night, a pair definitely made a connection, and now, a few years later, they got married in the room (ahem, arena) where it all began. Ben McCleskey & Avery Armstrong's wedding took place on March 3 at the Atlanta Hawks stadium. All-star guest Hawks CEO Steve Koonin was in attendance.
Leading up to the first Swipe Right Night in 2015, Koonin was optimistic that the event would lead to romance due to the success of Kiss Cam (in which the big screen zooms in on a couple, daring them to kiss) during the games.
"We were pioneers of the in-game ‘Kiss Cam’ and are hopeful that we can assist in making some more love connections at our games," Koonin said. The Hawks has hosted a Swipe Right Night every year since 2015.
In addition to having an unforgettable wedding ceremony on the court, the couple also received a surprise from Tinder. During the reception in the arena's Courtside Club, Tinder Head of Brand Rosette Pambakian delivered a video message for the newlyweds.
"We want to congratulate Ben and Avery on their marriage," said Pambakian in the message. "We couldn't be more thrilled that our Swipe Right Night with the Hawks led to such an amazing story and a life-changing match – and we are excited to send them on their honeymoon."
In a video before the wedding, Armstrong went dress shopping with her mom and sister at David's Bridal to pick out her perfect gown. Her wedding dress, and the dresses for all the women in her wedding party, were gifted by David's Bridal. Armstrong decided on a long-sleeve, deep-V option. McCleskey opted for a navy-blue suit and gold sneakers.
"He made me laugh and we had a great time," Armstrong said in the video about her first date with McCleskey at the game. "That was kind of what really changed everything."
The newlyweds' 30-minute religious ceremony, which included prayers and the bride and groom's individual vows, held 11 groomsmen and bridesmaids, and approximately 250 guests. The couple also received a gift from the Hawks – besides being the first couple to get married on the court – by receiving a "significant budget" for the event, they told The Knot. Although the massive arena can hold thousands of people, the wedding felt just right to the pair.
“Even though we got married in a nearly empty arena that fits over 15,000, through lighting and simple décor we made the space feel intimate,” Armstrong told The Knot in an interview.
The couple became parents on Feb. 3, 2017 to a baby girl named Joelle Faith. They took their daughter to her first basketball game in March 2017 – maybe in a couple of decades, she can find her match at a Hawks game, too.
"We all know that sports can unite people like few things can and we are happy to consider Avery and Ben Hawks fans and family for life,” said Koonin about the newlyweds.
"It's been an amazing experience and we will cherish it forever," said the couple of their spring wedding. "Our wedding was truly unforgettable."
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