Wedding to remember

Surrey native married in unique ceremony

Manuel and Kelsey (Bachmeier) Baeza pledge “I do” in a ceremony conducted by Jay Shetty and witnessed by Jennifer Lopez, right, and Maluma, left.

Manuel and Kelsey (Bachmeier) Baeza had wanted a unique, fun wedding, but the ceremony they experienced a week ago was beyond even what they had envisioned.

The Baezas were among four couples married during video filming with musicians and actors Jennifer Lopez and Maluma under the rooftop dome at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles Feb. 7.

“It’s a little different,” Kelsey Baeza said of the circumstances surrounding her wedding, “but that’s why I definitely wouldn’t change it.”

Kelsey grew up in the Minot area, graduating from high school in Surrey in 2014. She now lives in Orange County, California, where she is attending college to study graphic design and Manuel is studying business.

Baeza had enlisted in the United States Air Force in December 2014, serving six years. It was while stationed in Louisiana, working as a pharmacy tech, that she met Manuel, who served four years in the Air Force as an electronics warfare technician.

Manuel and Kelsey Baeza were married Feb. 7 in Los Angeles.

Manuel Baeza proposed during Mardi Gras in New Orleans in February 2020.

“We didn’t want a long engagement. We wanted to get married that year,” Kelsey Baeza said. They were researching the Bahamas for a destination wedding when the COVID-19 pandemic happened.

“We had just put it on hold for a while,” she said. They also moved a year ago to Orange County, where Manuel is from originally. Last month, they started talking again about planning a wedding.

“We told ourselves we would just get married locally because COVID is still happening. We were just ready to get married,” Kelsey Baeza said.

On Feb. 2, she heard an announcement on the radio stating it was the last day to enter a contest to be married as part of a Jennifer Lopez video. Lopez stars in the “Marry Me” movie that has been streaming on Peacock and opened in theaters Feb. 11. The movie features music by Lopez and Maluma.

Kelsey said she entered online without telling Manuel because she wasn’t sure they had a chance of being selected. The next day, she received an email notifying her of her finalist status and asking for a video. She then told Manuel and they submitted their video, learning that evening that they had been chosen and needed to be in Los Angeles the next morning.

The next three days were a whirlwind of clothing fittings, photos, interviews and rehearsals. Lopez’s wardrobe assistant took Kelsey dress shopping at David’s Bridal, which donated the dress she selected.

“The first day it was pretty surreal,” Kelsey Baeza said. “We were nervous and excited and we still couldn’t believe it was happening. The next day, it started to set in that this was real. We are going to get married.”

Their nerves had settled by the time the big day arrived.

“We were just excited. It was really fun,” Baeza said. “We were really tired, too. It was long days.”

She said hundreds of people were involved behind the scenes to bring the event together for all four couples, including one couple renewing their vows after 50 years.

Baeza said everyone was tested daily for COVID-19. However, because of the pandemic and the small size of the wedding venue, it wasn’t possible to invite family and friends.

The Baezas hope to plan a wedding reception the next time they are in North Dakota. Her mother now lives in Stanley, her father in Rugby and her two sisters in Minot and Fargo. She also has grandparents in Minot and Rugby.

Of course, the ceremony is preserved on video not only for family but for people across the nation to view. Baeza said all the wedding couples bonded during the four days and plan to keep in touch. Lopez and Maluma served as witnesses for each of the weddings.

“She was really sweet,” Baeza said of Lopez. “We met her the third day of rehearsals. She gave us hugs right away, and then she asked us if it was OK if she could be our witness — her and Maluma — to our ceremony, and, of course, we all said yes.”

Lopez sang and also danced with each of the wedding couples following the ceremony, which went beyond what is seen on the 10-minute video.

“She was really sweet and really nice,” Baeza said. “She was great.”

The online link to the video is www.youtube.com/watch?v=slMaskFVH1A


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