Portsmouth newlyweds leave reception to join Zumba class

‘They’re not just our friends; they’re our family,’ groom says

EastBayRI.com ·

PORTSMOUTH — They couldn’t afford to invite all their Zumba friends to their wedding on Thursday, so Justin Bennett and Tiffany MacDonald did the next best thing.

After tying the knot at McGovern’s in Fall River, the newlyweds left friends and family behind at the reception, got into a car and headed to the Common Fence Point Community Hall for the 6 p.m. Zumba class led by instructor Hilary Pietz.

“It’s family in there and if I had the money, they’d all be (at the wedding). We wanted to come here,” said Tiffany, just before she and Justin entered the hall to be greeted by more than 40 Zumba enthusiasts, all whooping and hollering for them.

Tiffany started coming to Zumba classes here since they began four years ago. Justin signed up as well.

“They’ve helped us out with so much stuff,” said Justin, who expressed gratitude to Conley Zani, director of development for the Common Fence Point Improvement Association (CFPIA), and others for keeping the couple focused before their nuptials. 

“All the girls have helped us de-stress, because everybody knows that planning for a wedding is very stressful. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said. “They mean the world to us. They’re not just our friends; they’re our family.” 

Met at church fest

Tiffany — now Mrs. Bennett — has lived in town for 10 years and is a 2012 graduate of Portsmouth High School, while the groom has been a local resident for about three years. She’s 23 and a certified nursing assistant, he's 27 and drives a truck.

They met at the annual St. Barnabas Parish Festival; this year’s celebration started Friday and runs through Sunday. (The newlyweds said they’ll be there.)

“I was working; I was a carny,” said Justin, who was new to the carnival and running an inflatable slide at the time. “I happened to notice her.”

Tiffany’s little sister pointed Justin out. 

“My little sister said, ‘That boy keeps staring at you and I know it’s really weird but I want to go on his ride.’ So I brought her,” Tiffany said.

Justin, it turned out, was a smooth talker.

“He started out the conversation with, ‘It’s a really nice day out today,’” Tiffany recalled.

The rest is history.

Wedding attire + Zumba = sweat

On Thursday, husband and wife got on stage at the community hall with Ms. Pietz and led the class while bumping and grinding to two of their favorite choreographed Zumba dances: “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee; and “Lucy,” by Destra’s. 

“We have a choreographed Zumba song that we do on a weekly basis that is our favorite, so we wanted to dance to it. What better day to do it than on our wedding day?” said Justin.

After that, the sweaty couple bid adieu to their friends, hopped back into their car and returned to revelers at the wedding reception.

“I got chills!” exclaimed Ms. Zani, who was thrilled to see the Zumba group be a part of the wedding celebration. “I feel like this group always helps each other out. It’s such an emotional support group.

“Everyone’s gonna walk out of here feeling fantastic.”

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