Soon after exchanging their wedding vows on a dock in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Zeena Hernandez and Lisa Yang ditched their shoes and stepped up to an oriental rug.
Using mixed grips, the couple bent down, planted their feet and lifted a 253-pound barbell together for three reps in a tandem deadlift.
"Individually, we are strong capable women, but together we are stronger,” Hernandez, 27, told Women’s Health Magazine — even though each bride can hoist this weight on her own.
After their tandem lift, the brides went back to the altar and exchanged rings on what Hernandez described on Instagram as “the most amazing day of my life.”
In an interview with NBC News, Hernandez said she and Yang, 28, met online (“like a great New York love story”) and have been a couple for five years.
“We were runners actually,” Hernandez said, “and we wanted to get stronger. Initially, I got her into CrossFit, and then she found her way into the weightlifting team.” Since the two began weightlifting, they have attended competitions like this year’s American Open Series.
Hernandez, a physical trainer who owns Good Reps Physical Therapy in Brooklyn, New York, said even on this most important day, her “physical therapist brain was still on.”
“There was a point where our officiant was introducing the deadlifts, so our bridesmaid assigned someone to help us take off our shoes,” Hernandez said. “Our wedding planner was awesome — and actually it took planning.”
The planning included placing a ballistic weightlifting mat underneath the oriental rug, at the request of the wedding venue, “so the dock didn’t get hurt,” Hernandez said. “We had our weightlifting team with us, and they knew we were going to do it because we were practicing.”
Eileen Meny, their wedding photographer, said, “I've seen couples light candles, pour sand in a jar, and take shots of whiskey for unity ceremonies, but to do something so physical and unique to who they were as a duo was awesome.”
“When I met Lisa and Zeena in their hotel room on the wedding day and saw these beautiful dresses with gorgeous trains, I had a slight panic moment wondering how it was going to all come together,” Meny said. “I was very relieved when I saw both Lisa and Zeena take off their shoes before they did the lift.”
While 253 pounds may sound impressive, Hernandez noted that she and Yang could have gone heavier, but there was "just so much torque."
“We couldn’t keep the bar close, because the dresses were so poufy," she added.
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds went to the Philippines, in part to visit Hernandez’s grandmother, who was too ill to travel to New York.
“My mom posted our pictures, and I think people were more just confused,” Hernandez said of the reaction by her family in the Philippines. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s a double wedding.’”
Although same-sex marriage is not legal in the Philippines, Hernandez said her community there is “really accepting, but I think the idea of a gay person getting married is really brand new.”