What started out as a joke turned serious last November for Liberty High School English teacher David Ziegler, 45, and his then-fiancee, Charlotte Fraze, 37.
The couple tied the knot in a bombshell wedding at the Liberty High School gym during the Bright Bash dance, an event sponsored by a student-run business as a project in an economics class.
Social studies teacher Tara Bula, who teaches the class, said she suggested the idea during a dinner party.
“At dinner, my husband and I shared with (David and Charlotte) how much we loved eloping and would hate to plan a wedding. They shared the same sentiment,” she said. “I jokingly said they could just get married at the dance, as we would already have a DJ, photographer, food, etc. They liked the idea.”
Bula said she got approval from her student chief executive officer and associates and then the group was sworn to secrecy. She said the dance attendees were in “absolute disbelief” when the couple greeted Bryce Rankins, a minister and frequent substitute teacher on the campus, and the ceremony got underway.
“It was a moment full of love and sealed in the memories of many high school students,” she said. “While permanently preserved on endless social media accounts.”
David echoed Bula. He said there was “a wall of cell phones” pointed in their direction once the secret was out.
“The crowd went crazy,” he said. “The next thing I know, my phone is blowing up with messages from friends and former students.”
And with more than two decades in the classroom, David has a lot of former pupils – his new bride being most notable. David was a first-year teacher at West High School when he met Charlotte, then in her senior year. She said he was her forensics coach back then, and although she never dreamed that he would someday be her husband, she said she thought he was pretty cute.
“I did have a high school crush on him,” she said.
David admits that he sensed Charlotte’s feelings at that time, but he had bigger fish to fry. “I knew that she was crushing,” he said with a serious tone. “But frankly, I really, really liked my job. I wasn’t about to do anything to jeopardize that.”
In 2011 Charlotte, a franchise business consultant for Taco Bell living in Illinois, contacted David through Facebook – and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Things were changing in his life and things were changing in mine,” she said. “We started messaging back and forth.”
David said they’d been struggling with the when, where and how of wedding prep and just decided to jump in with both feet when the opportunity presented itself at the dance. Charlotte said some family members “were a little offended” at the spontaneity but there’s no reasoning with serendipity. Charlotte says they plan to make it up to them.
“We’re going to have a reception,” she said.
Of course, the date is yet to be announced. ￼