Tony Barbuto walked back and forth to ensure that the wedding arbor and rows of chairs were lined up perfectly. On the field, the Bobcats sauntered off at Peden Stadium following their second day of fall camp. Many of them had noticed the decorations set up in the shade of the Sook Center but paid it no mind. Their Saturday practice was over.
Barbuto’s day, on the other hand, was just beginning. He was marrying his fiancée, Mallory, at 2 p.m.
The Barbutos are proud Ohio alumni. The couple both marched in the Marching 110 during their stints in college and spent much of their time preparing for their performances on the field at Peden Stadium.
To them, Ohio University — and by extension Peden Stadium — was like a second home. So why not get married there?
The two had met in Athens during Ohio’s Homecoming weekend in 2005. Mallory was a freshman in the color guard, while Tony was an alumni sousaphone player who was visiting Athens for the weekend. When a handful of 110 members went to Buffalo Wild Wings that weekend, Tony — affectionately referred to by Mallory as “Guido” — pretended to be Mallory’s boyfriend to keep away a guy who had been making her uncomfortable.
“I had gotten hit on by a guy who just wouldn't leave me alone at (Buffalo Wild Wings),” Mallory said. “I saw Guido, and I'm like, ‘This kid won’t mess with him.’ I went over to him and said, ‘Will you pretend to be my boyfriend for the night? This kid won’t leave me alone.’ And then he put his arm around me and kissed me on the forehead.”
According to the couple, that day in 2005 was their semi-official first date.
Their relationship flickered on and off for several years while Tony was living in Columbus and Mallory was still attending Ohio, but for a variety of reasons, never worked out. Mallory eventually moved to Los Gatos, California to be closer to her mother, and Tony got a job as a sales representative for McFadden Sales, which sells audio equipment.
In 2019, Tony traveled to Anaheim for a trade show. On a whim, he asked Mallory if she wanted him to fly up to the Bay Area where she lived so they could see each other in person again. The two had been in steady communication since Mallory moved and were considering another shot at the relationship.
Mallory agreed, and the rest is history.
“That was really the thing that sealed the deal,” Tony said. “It was like ‘Okay, this should have happened a long time ago, but now it’s realistic. Sorry you had to move all the way to California for us to figure that out.’ So then we started hashing out a plan, and about six months after that, she moved back to Ohio.”
Tony and Mallory’s wedding is the first to be held in Peden since the stadium opened in 1929. Ohio University recommends spaces like the Baker Center ballroom, Galbreath Memorial Chapel or the Walter Hall Rotunda for weddings, but the couple wanted a unique backdrop for their big day.
“We got permission through (Ohio) athletics for the venue,” Tony said. “I kind of explained everything, and they didn't say no, but we had to still wait for the university to open up everything from COVID. Even then there were still some regulations in place, so we had to kind of plan things backwards.”
While in the midst of the wedding planning process, Tony hatched an idea. He wanted the Marching 110 to surprise Mallory at the end of the ceremony.
Joshua Boyer, the current assistant director of the Marching 110, marched with both Tony and Mallory during his time attending Ohio. When Tony reached out and asked if the 110 was able to perform for Mallory and himself, Boyer said it was a no-brainer. He assembled a handful of student volunteers that were more than willing to perform for the couple.
“These kinds of gigs happen when, when one of the parties contacted us and asked us if we're interested in playing,” Boyer said. “We get students volunteering to come and make it happen. Our students are happy to give back to the university and give that gift to the bride and groom.”
The wedding went off without a hitch. Attendance was kept low at the university’s request, but many of the Barbutos’ friends from their college days were in attendance.
Even Andy Black, the Barbutos’ wedding officiant, marched in the 110 with the couple. Black, whose day job is selling mattresses, had gotten ordained by the Universal Life Church Ministries over a decade ago as a joke. He never thought the certification he received on a whim might come in handy one day.
The ceremony was brief. If the entrance of the groomsmen, bridesmaids and Mallory’s walk down the aisle set to Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” are included, the wedding lasted 20 minutes. But for the Barbutos, it was 16 years in the making.
“If the only thing I can complain about is snoring, I'm the luckiest person in the whole world,” Mallory said.