The pair became a match during their summer jobs at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Loreen Bakoo Herron was attending Saugus High. Richard Herron went to Canyon.
They first realized their commitment to each other at a longtime SCV eatery — where the same waitress who served them all those years earlier later watched their engagement.
If the tale was a rom-com, “A Santa Clarita love story … ” would definitely be in the tagline.
“We’re here today to witness the joining of two lives whose love story is one of destiny,” said Tammy Beres, a longtime family friend who’s known them both for years and officiated the wedding via Zoom on April 4.
That Saturday was a date the two had marked on their calendar for a while. And they decided they weren’t going to let COVID-19, or a nationwide quarantine, stop them from making their commitment to each other.
“So after becoming boyfriend and girlfriend on Valentine’s Day at the Backwoods Inn in 1999… they dated and went to prom together,” Beres continued. “However, they eventually broke up and went separate ways, but remained distant friends.
“Ultimately though, fate stepped in, and they reconnected in October 2016, when they fell in love all over again.”
The love story
The two first fell pretty hard for each other a little over 20 years ago.
Richard was Loreen’s supervisor when they first met. But they both hustled in the SCV heat at the self-proclaimed “Thrill Capital of the World,” making sure park patrons received their mid-scream photos after they departed thrill rides like Batman and Riddler.
And even though they were both still kids, they knew.
“I used to say he was my soulmate,” she recalled in a phone interview Sunday.
They broke up, however, Richard’s career took him to the East Coast, Texas and then San Diego. While Loreen also moved on, she remained friends with Richard, who never stopped caring for her.
“And I guess Richard, he knew and he was telling his family, but I had no idea … I was married and you know, to the best of my knowledge, we’re just friends,” Loreen said.
“We fell out of touch and we got back into touch and then fell out of touch,” Richard added. “I’ve been telling my family for the past 12 years or so that I was gonna marry her.”
How it all worked out
Richard tried to reconnect, but the timing never seemed to be right.
In 2010, he tried at the wedding for Richard’s sister, that wasn’t the right time, either.
“She shot me down,” he can now say with a laugh.
“Honestly, I feel like I, both of us, needed to still grow and have other relationships and figure out what we really wanted,” she said, noting that he was still living on the East Coast at the time, too. “Not only in a partner, but out of life. And when we reconnected, it was just, it was the right time. Like, everything happens for a reason.”
And then they both found themselves single and back in Santa Clarita in fall 2016.
“And when I came home, we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re both back in Santa Clarita,” Loreen said. “Let’s reconnect. Let’s hang out. And we did — and there were definitely sparks there, pyoo pyoo pyoo,” she said with a laugh.
“We got engaged at Backwoods Inn, which was where he asked me to be his girlfriend,” she said. “We got engaged in the same booth with the same waitress.”
The two ultimately decided on their wedding date, April 4, and planned a marriage on the beach with a backyard reception, a date they picked last summer, before Richard found out he would need to have a surgery on his hip.
The sudden change in plans made it so that the pair decided to let their family and friends know they’d be postponing the wedding, not knowing then for certain if Richard would be able to have their first dance to their song, “Always and Forever” by Heatwave, by early April.
And then, COVID-19 came along.
While the pair are still planning a family gathering to celebrate with everyone once it’s safe. Loreen had an inspiration during the quarantine.
“We’re sitting on the couch … about a week and a half before, and I said, ‘You know, I have this crazy idea.’
“And I said, ‘What if we kept (April 4), and we got married right here in our apartment?’”
The ideas quickly started to build.
Decorate the dining room. Black silk pajamas for the groom. White silk pajamas for the bride. Their 2-year-old son Jude would get a blue pair for the occasion.
“I said, ‘I bet everybody would like to see something positive right now. All that I see on Facebook is negative stuff these days,’ and I was like, ‘we can make it happen.’”
Richard thought she was kidding, at first, but was quickly on board.
“With my recovery taking shorter than expected,” Richard said, “there just wasn’t enough time to put everything together to keep that day for a more traditional-type wedding. So this actually worked out really, really well.”
The two organized a Zoom call with Beres, a longtime family friend who knew Richard and Loreen for years, and notified their family they’d be doing a rehearsal the Thursday before, in order to work out the expected technical difficulties.
Loreen’s sister Lubna was the maid of honor and, while the two talk several times a day and are best friends, the move surprised her sister, she said.
“She was like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have a rehearsal for the wedding for Zoom, and I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And so, it was a surprise to everyone,” she said, recalling when her sister told her the plan.
The Herrons shared the Zoom invite with about 75 attendees who were immediate family, the wedding party and family friends, and then let all their other friends know on Facebook that the couple had a surprise at 6 p.m.that they would be streaming on Facebook Live, which was set up to allow viewers to see the couple in front of the TV that carried the Zoom call with Beres.
The pair are going to plan a live celebration once the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, which everyone is looking forward to — but it was nice for all their friends and family to be able to share something positive during the quarantine, Lubna said.
“I just wish that I was there to like, really, really be in person. But you know what? In times like this right now, it was nice just to see something so happy and so precious,” she said. “And having that love, you know, it was really nice to see.”