One Fine Day: Jason and Jena Parker

Married 18 May 2002

Parkers wedding

Nothing says attractive like a graduation cap and gown—at least that was the case for Jason and Jena Parker, who found each other in a sea of dark blue at commencement. It was 2001, and Jena was ecstatic to be graduating with her MBA. As she stood in the tunnel of the Marriott Center awaiting the procession, she spotted Jason over in the bachelor’s degree line. With his dark hair, he was just the type of guy Jena had been hoping to find. So she decided to give him the look—three times with a big smile. “He was just so good looking,” Jena says. She didn’t expect anything to come of it, but after a few minutes a voice behind her said hello. She turned around to find the graduate she’d been eyeing.

Jason remembers, “I was just looking at her thinking, ‘There is a very attractive graduate smiling at me.’” After checking to make sure she was actually looking at him, he confidently went to talk to her. In a quick, five-minute chat, the two got to know each other for what Jena thought was the first time—until Jason said, “We’ve met before. Your name is Jena.”

“That surprised her,” Jason says looking back. “I couldn’t remember at that moment how I knew her, but it started to come back that we had a mutual friend from a few years previous.” The two had in fact met briefly several times before, but this meeting was different. “I left that line thinking, I’m gonna date this guy seriously or marry him,” Jena says.

Jason on the other hand was just happy to have found a cute girl to hang out with. “My ambitions were more down to earth,” he says. “But there was definitely something that made her stand apart from the rest in a very clear, undeniable way. When she was looking at me and I caught her, it was like my heart skipped a beat.”

Seven weeks passed before they saw each other again. For Jena, that first date was a very different experience from their initial meet up: “I remember going out and thinking, ‘This is the guy I got that feeling about? There’s no way I could marry this guy!’” After a little while though, the two were seeing each other every day that summer.

Because Jena was headed off to California for a job with Intel, Jason thought he’d be safe from any expectations. “Of course that backfired when she left, and I was really, really sad,” he says. The two began a long distance courtship, with Jena visiting Utah every weekend. It didn’t take too long until Jena knew—again—that he was her guy. “It was seriously such an adventure,” Jena says.

Jason and Jena were married 18 May 2002; today, they live in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and have three daughters. Between the two of them, Jena and Jason hold five BYU degrees: Jena received her MBA in 2001 and a BS in psychology and a BA in math education in 1997. Jason earned his EMBA in 2007 and a BA in broadcast communications in 2000. Jason currently sells software for the company Channel Advisor, and he and Jena also run a small company called JarOpener.com.

Catch more Marriott love stories in “Joint Ventures” in the Winter 2014 issue.

Parker family