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Wedding Crasher: James Franklin Surprises Penn State Newlyweds

Imagine: After a day filled with goal post center pieces, tailgate reception food, and one very regal JoePa cutout, your Penn State wedding is crashed by none other than coach James Franklin.

For Alex and Ashley Palmer, newlyweds and Penn State alumni, this was exactly what occurred during their wedding this past Saturday, March 21.

franklin wedding

Alex and Ashley were married in the Nittany Lions Club inside Beaver Stadium after two years of engagement. Their story is one that bleeds blue and white — after graduating Penn State in ’09 and ’11 respectively, Alex proposed to Ashley after a football game at her family’s tailgate. Ashley herself comes from an entirely Penn State family. Her parents both graduated Penn State in 1986, and her brother, David Bennett, who was also the best man at the wedding, is currently a senior.

For an engagement so cemented in Penn State and “We Are,” the wedding certainly did not disappoint. According to David, guests stayed at the Nittany Lion Inn and were transported to and from the Beaver Stadium wedding by means of the football team’s blue buses. On the day of the wedding, the bride’s wedding party had Irving’s; the groom and best man ate breakfast at the Creamery. Pom poms were placed at each seat at the ceremony, and guests were able to take pictures with Penn State cheerleaders during cocktail hour.

wedding stuffz

Meanwhile, throughout the entire weekend, the bride’s brother David was also tweeting at Coach Franklin, inviting him to the wedding festivities. On Friday, after the wedding rehearsal, as well as right before the ceremony on Saturday, he tweeted at Coach Franklin but didn’t receive a response either time.

However, it must have been Penn State destiny: After cocktail hour, as the guests mingled in the stadium and the newlyweds were taking pictures in the club level seats, they spotted Franklin on the field, touring and hosting recruits. Once Franklin spotted them in the stands, he started the “We Are!” chant with them from his spot on the field.

psu wedding

But this wouldn’t be the last of Franklin’s wedding crashing maneuvers.

“After we took some photos inside the stadium,” David said, “we loaded up on the trolley and headed for Old Main.”

During this time, he was messaged directly by Franklin via Twitter — Franklin told David that he was outside of the club level and wanted to meet the wedding party.

“Unfortunately, we had left for Old Main,” David said — but this wouldn’t stop Franklin. “Coach actually got a hold of our wedding planner and asked where we were so he could hunt us down.”

Eventually, Franklin found the bride and groom at Old Main as they were finishing up taking pictures. In addition to congratulating the happy couple, Franklin “dropped off a signed helmet by him for the two of them.” According to David, “Alex didn’t let the helmet out of his sights all night!”

signed helmet

Of course, the Staters kept on Stating, with the guests partying to the tunes of “Zombie Nation,” “Fight on State,” and many other stadium favorites throughout the reception. However, the day’s excitement was certainly due to Franklin’s surprise appearance — inspiring wedding dreams of diehard Penn Staters around the country.

“Coach definitely added a special moment to the big day,” David said, “and we are so thankful to him for that.”

Photos: Courtesy of David Bennett / Primary Photo: Samantha Jay Photography

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About the Author

Jessica Myers

Jess graduated in May 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in English, and with two minors in Latin and Art History. When she says she's "shippin' up to Boston," she's not just singing the song -- she's actually attending Northeastern University this fall to pursue her master's degree. You can follow her shenanigans at her site,

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